FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HANC Leadership Counters Corporate Hijacking Attempt, Warns Public of Potential Fraud.
March 4, 2021 – Hellenic American National Council (HANC) has issued a direct legal warning to a group attempting to hijack the organization, and is advising the public to be aware of unauthorized communications.
In an open letter delivered today, HANC President, Vassilios Matarangas, and General Secretary, Dr. Panayiotis Baltatzis, have demanded that the group, calling itself the “Presidents’ Forum of HANC”, cease and desist from further use of HANC’s name and marks (including the “Presidents’ Forum” name), as well as any communication that might confuse HANC’s members and the public.
The dissidents, who originally sent HANC a bizarre email on January 23, 2021 demanding that the entire Executive Committee resign immediately, includes six organizations that have been previously expelled from HANC’s members for conduct detrimental to HANC and its mission of promoting Hellenism.
“Imagine that! Getting kicked out of an organization and then, four years later, sending an email from your basement demanding that the leadership step down immediately. It’s ridiculous!” Matarangas said. “Practically the next day, we started getting calls from people around the country wondering who these new guys were and what had happened to all of the leaders they knew.”
Matarangas responded to the group in an open letter on February 2, 2021, but then, on February 26, 2021, the group of dissidents published an unsigned “Press Release”, again under the name of “HANC’s Presidents’ Forum.” This time, the group announced that they had elected their own, unidentified, “Temporary Committee” who were planning to take various steps on behalf of HANC. At least one online-only news outlet ran the entire Hellenic-language release without seeking comment from HANC’s leadership, who were called out, by name, in the hit piece.
The problem? The release, which contained numerous defamatory allegations, nor any of the actions it identified, had ever been authorized by HANC or its actual Members.
“HANC is a serious organization that deals with important issues of promoting our shared language, the truth of Hellenic History, and Hellenism’s principal ideals. People deserve to know that, when they see messages from HANC, those communications are authentic.” Said Matarangas.
But those were only the first problems with the bogus press release and other materials. Two of the organizations demanding action have never been Members of HANC, and four additional organizations have not been Members in Good Standing of HANC for as long as a decade.
The letter from HANC specifically addresses the new and lapsed organizations who may have been misled, and invites them to join (or rejoin) HANC in furtherance of its goals. It also sets the record straight regarding elections, which were delayed in accordance with state laws in Massachusetts where HANC is domiciled as an organization. Those elections will be held after the expiration of the Governor’s pandemic emergency order.
The letter also places legal crosshairs on the dissident group leaders by assuring that they cannot plead ignorance of their actions in future proceedings. The letter specifically mentions mark infringement, tortious interference, and fraud as potential claims, if the behavior continues.
For example, the release falsely suggested that, since 2017, HANC has not had an active status as a tax exempt organization. But, a simple investigation of public IRS records indicates that HANC has an active, current, and in-force tax exempt status. In fact, HANC had this exemption restored (through the efforts of the current Executive Committee, no less) in 2017. By falsely asserting otherwise in public, the authors of the release have opened themselves – and the organizations they purported to represent – to serious claims of defamation of HANC itself.
In the wake of a handful of zoom meetings hosted by the dissidents, several of the organizations and individuals that participated in the meetings contacted HANC’s Executive Committee directly after the events, to repudiate the materials as having been sent without their approval or knowledge, and to ask that their names be removed from the correspondence. Non-profit trademarks enjoy the same protection as for-profit businesses and, if the dissidents attempted any fundraising or commercial efforts that were not approved by HANC, those actions could amount to fraud.
Still, lawsuits and nasty letters are not HANC’s focus, according to Matarangas. “We are working very hard on coordinating nation-wide celebrations of the upcoming Bicentennial of Hellenic Independence on March 25, 2021, and on ways that we can help Hellenic-American international trade and travel to Greece accelerate rapidly out of the pandemic and economic recession.”
“This unauthorized communication issue is not something we could avoid addressing publicly because it interferes with those missions. But we do not intend to dwell on it – especially not with people who have little interest in the truth. We have more important things to do.” Baltatzis added.
About The Hellenic American National Council.
The Hellenic American National Council (http://www.hanc.us, “HANC”) is a top-tier, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization composed of and supported by constituent Federations and Associations throughout the United States and Canada. For nearly 30 years, HANC has been a force for the core tenets of Hellenism, and improved American-Hellenic relations, on behalf of the nearly 3 Million people of the Hellenic diaspora, and of Hellenic heritage, in North America.
For Additional Information Contact:
Bill Mataragas, President Dr. Panayiotis Baltatzis
708-908-0092 Info@HANC.US Secretary General