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Greek shipowner Restis arrested over bank loans

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek shipowner Victor Restis was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of money laundering and embezzlement, police and court officials said, becoming one of just a few prominent businessmen to be arrested since Greece sank into crisis.

Restis, who owns a shipping fleet and has a stake in a Greek newspaper among other media holdings, is accused of using his influence over the FBB bank to secure loans and funds of up to about 500 million euros for people and companies with whom he had ties, police and court officials said.

His family owned a majority stake in small lender FBB, which was wound down earlier this year with its healthy assets absorbed by Greece's top lender, National Bank .

Restis's lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment. He has not yet been charged over the case.

He was arrested outside his office in a northern suburb of Athens, a police official said, and was expected to appear before a prosecutor later in the day.

Restis was arrested a few months after prominent Greek businessman Lavrentis Lavrentiadis was jailed in December pending trial for involvement in a banking scandal. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Greece's descent into a deep economic crisis has triggered public anger against a political and business elite widely viewed as privileged and corrupt, prompting prosecutors to step up investigations into corruption cases.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou, Editing by Deepa Babington and Angus MacSwan)

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