Former Greek transport minister Michalis Liapis, arrested earlier this month in Greece on charges of driving his luxury car with false license plates, no license, no registration and no insurance, was given a suspended four-year jail sentence on Dec. 30 by a Greek court.
The prosecutor had called for Liapis to be found guilty on charges of false certification and forgery and said the charge showed that he was “an individual with leanings toward crime,” and that he should be made an example of because of his high standing, political connections and wealth which showed he could have paid but didn’t want to.
“This immensely rich person refused to pay such a small sum, forging his license plates,” the prosecutor said. Liapis was trying to duck paying a 1,320 euros annual road tax required for drivers to keep their cars on the road.
He said he turned in his plates earlier this year because he didn’t have the money to pay it despite a substantial savings account and owning 28 properties. When he was arrested he claimed that, “I’m a pensioner,” and that he was just driving the car unlawfully to charge the battery.
After his arrest he was able to take a vacation to Malaysia. On his return, he told reporters waiting for him at Athens International Airport that he had taken the Asian trip to “relax after my dramatic experience” and blamed the Greek media for hounding him after his arrest.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, ejected Liapis from the party and called on prosecutors to show no leniency toward the rich and privileged but the court decided not to jail him.