The latest shadow cast over a well-known but unregistered charity in Greece came this week with reports that the tax bureau’s (AADE) money laundering unit was investigating the founder and public face of the “Allos Anthropos (Another Human) Social Kitchen” for embezzling donations and gambling the money away.

The charity has been a prolific and well-publicized operator of soup or social kitchens and community pantries for the past 13 years, mostly in central Athens but also in handful of other cities around the country.

According to the reports, the charity’s founder, Konstantinos Polychronopoulos, is accused of money laundering, something he categorically denied on Monday.

News reports circulated during the day, including revelations by the newspapers “Ta Nea” and “To Vima”, claim Polychronopoulos is being investigated on suspicion of siphoning off tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands of euros in donations deposited in two bank accounts controlled by two close relatives.

The same reports have the man, who ostensibly shows no personal income, frequenting video gambling parlors for several years and engaging in extensive betting, with one figure citing losses of upwards of 600,000 euros.

In his first statement to awaiting reporters, Polychronopoulos admitted to frequenting such gambling parlors and using the same bank card linked with one of the two accounts used to collect donations, although he maintained he didn’t use the card to drain money for gambling, but instead to exchange POS transactions with cash.

Another report in a weekly Athens paper a day earlier refers to an order by the tax bureau (AADE) to freeze any accounts, securities, investment schemes or financial products linked with the charity’s founder and operator.

The news came as a shock to many of the volunteers and beneficiaries of the “Allos Anthropos” charity, with all who spoke to the media expressing their dismay and conviction that Polychronopoulos is innocent of the accusations.

The development comes months after the founder and former head of the children’s charity organization “Kivotos tou Kosmou”, Fr. Antonios, was formally charged with several counts of sexual battery of minors. A probe into that Athens NGO began in November 2022, and involves other Kivotos staff and juvenile residents as well as judicial investigation into the youth shelter’s finances.