PIRAEUS (AMP) – Even as Greece sinks into a sea of debt, Greek tycoons like shipping billionaire Chris Andros III are sailing away with profits from Asia.
“The Greeks for had a long-standing trade relationship with China for well over a century,” said Andros, the 27-year-old scion and chief executive of Andros Shipping best known for flings with American hotel heiresses like Ivanka Trump and Paris Hilton. “These days China is importing raw materials on an unprecedented scale. My ships carry those materials for hungry infrastructure projects in China and India.”
Andros Shipping, based in the port city of Piraeus near Athens, is one of several Greek shippers that reported healthy profits in the last quarter — thanks mainly to business in Asia. Andros who has a fleet of 14 ships with three more on order in 2010 to meet demand.
Andros Shipping’s fortunes come even as the Greek economy is now dependent on a bailout loan of 110 billion euros (136 billion dollars) from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Some outsiders claim shipping magnates like Andros and commodity speculators like Sir Roman Midas have been taking advantage of the Greek debt crisis to enrich themselves.
Greece has 20 percent of the world fleet, for example, but although Andros Shipping is based there, it is registered as an offshore entity in the Marshall Islands and conducts all of its shipping beyond the shores of the Greek Islands. Andros says he he bringing foreign exchange into the Greek economy, but his company is exempt from paying corporate tax.
“Young Andros is every bit a pirate as Midas,” said an official of the IMF who requested anonymity because the IMF had depended on both Andros and Midas in the past to combat Somali pirates off the coast of Africa. “And he has yet to clarify his relationship with rogue American archaeologist Conrad Yeats and his role in smuggling of ancient artifacts around the globe.”
Andros vigorously denied the charges, asking, “Why would I want to smuggle priceless when the Chinese are already paying me millions to ship them construction materials?”