HSBC is closing in on the property of Katerina Xylas in Athens, to enforce an English court decision ordering the Greek owner to pay outstanding debts.
The real estate in question is a two-floor apartment in the upmarket suburb of Psyhiko that will be auctioned electronically on 9 October, official Greek papers show.
A sale will recover just part of the $2.1m plus $800,000 in interest that Xylas owes the bank, according to a High Court judgment in London last July.
The reserve bid price for the apartment was set to match its estimated value of €355,000 ($400,000).
The debts result from loans extended in 2009 and 2010 to single-ship companies controlled by Pyrsos Shipping, which is jointly owned by sisters Katerina and Doris Xylas. HSBC advanced $31.5m for the 33,000-dwt newbuildings Antaeus (built 2009) and Apellis (built 2010).
Guarantees were given by Pyrsos and Katerina Xylas, but not by Doris Xylas, who was not a party to the proceedings. Katerina Xylas, who could not be reached for comment for this story, did not appear in court.
Brexit is not expected to be an obstacle to HSBC’s pursuit of Katerina Xylas’ apartment because the court ruling predates the UK’s planned exit from the European Union. Matters, however, are less clear with post-Brexit rulings.
'Difficult to predict exact impact of Brexit'
“It is difficult to predict what the exact impact of Brexit will be on these matters until we know what post-Brexit model and terms the UK and the EU will agree, if any agreement is reached at all,” attorneys at international law firm Morrison & Foerster said in a note published in January.
The UK has announced it will deal with such matters under the Hague Convention — an international agreement that ensures the mutual, cross-border enforcement of judgments in civil legal cases.
However, some rulings, such as interim injunctions and freezing orders, fall outside the scope of the convention. The enforceability of such decisions “would depend on the national law of each EU member state in which enforcement is being sought”, Morrison & Foerster said.
English judgments will continue to be enforced in Greece, according to one Greek lawyer. “This will not happen automatically but after recognition in a relatively simple procedure, without actual retrial,” he said.
There are recent examples of Greek courts enforcing decisions made in non-EU countries.
Last month, the First Instance Court in Piraeus granted commodity trader Serge Turko permission to enforce the collection of $22.3m in punitive damages in Greece against Michael Zolotas, the boss of defunct listed shipping company NewLead Holdings.