Kan­tas claim re­sults in ar­rest of arms dealer

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The Greek rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Ger­man arms firm Krauss-Maf­fei Weg­mann was ar­rested in Athens yes­ter­day on sus­pi­cion of brib­ing a De­fense Min­istry of­fi­cial to se­cure the sale of mil­i­tary equip­ment.

Dim­itris Pa­pachris­tou was taken into cus­tody af­ter An­to­nis Kan­tas, the ex-deputy head of pro­cure­ments at the min­istry be­tween 1996 and 2002, al­leged he was one of sev­eral mid­dle­men who paid him a to­tal of 16 mil­lion dol­lars in kick­backs to clinch con­tracts.

Kan­tas claims the 195-mil­lion-euro deal for the sale of 24 self-pro­pelled how­itzers was agreed af­ter Pa­pachris­tou said the Ger­man firm would pay the ex-of­fi­cial 0.5 per­cent of the con­tract’s value. Kan­tas told judges that as soon as the deal was inked in 2002, he re­ceived 550,000 eu­ros in a Swiss bank ac­count, 100,000 eu­ros at a Ger­man bank and another 100,000 eu­ros in cash.

Krauss-Maf­fei Weg­mann, which also signed a deal in 2003 to sup­ply Greece with 170 Leop­ard tanks – another con­tract un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, de­nies mak­ing any un­der-thetable pay­ments to Kan­tas.

The ev­i­dence given by Kan­tas is ex­pected to lead to more sus­pects be­ing ques­tioned. One of those ac­cused of pay­ing bribes, 83year-old Panayi­o­tis Ef­s­tathiou, has al­ready told au­thor­i­ties he would co­op­er­ate with their in­quiry, sources said.

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