Shares of companies listed on the Athens Stock Exchange are held with the Central Securities Depository (CSD) in book entry form. At the same time a direct registration system is in effect, according to which shares are recorded in the ultimate investor's name. No provisions or market practice exist to allow for omnibus accounts and settlement occurs at the final investor level. Transfers between investors are possible only through a market transaction, as off-exchange transfers are subject to various restrictions. This situation is creating problems with international broker-dealers effecting transactions on behalf of their clients, in the event of mistakes in the allocation of shares bought or other situations when a change is necessary in the way stock holdings have been recorded.
Following requests by international investors, broker dealers and their local custodians, the Capital Market Commission has issued a decision allowing extraordinary transfers of securities held in client accounts with the CSD. These can be effected without a corresponding stock exchange transaction, in other words on a cost-free basis, upon presentation of a statement by the custodian to the effect that CSD records do not correspond with the true situation, as recorded in the custodian's own books. It should be noted, however, that this is an extraordinary procedure that will be available only for a period of 10 business days, starting from its effective date, which will be 45 days from publication of the decision in the Government Gazette. Since this was made on January 31 2002 (Government Gazette issue 112/2002) and the effective date is March 18 2002, the last business day when this opportunity will be available is April 2 2002. The Capital Market Commission has not indicated whether this decision will or may be reactivated in the future.