Bribe claims reach army

Ex-me­di­a­tor for Ger­man de­fense firm sug­gests 10 of­fi­cials re­ceived kick­backs

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A broad­en­ing cor­rup­tion scan­dal gath­ered pace yes­ter­day af­ter a for­mer rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a Ger­man de­fense sys­tems firm sug­gested that at least 10 mem­bers of Greece’s armed forces, in­clud­ing a for­mer chief of staff, re­ceived un­der­the-ta­ble pay­ments to se­cure pro­cure­ments.

The sus­pect, 83-year-old Panayi­o­tis Ef­s­tathiou, was re­manded in cus­tody yes­ter­day af­ter sev­eral hours of tes­ti­mony be­fore in­ves­ti­gat­ing mag­is­trates Gavriil Mal­lis and Yian­nis Stavropou­los. Ef­s­tathiou, who used to rep­re­sent the Ger­man firm At­las, in­di­cated that at least 10 armed forces of­fi­cials ac­cepted bribes to ap­prove the pur­chase of arms from At­las, sources said. Th­ese 10 of­fi­cials in­clude a for­mer chief of staff, another very se­nior of­fi­cial and the one-time head of a Greek de­fense sys­tems man­u­fac­turer, the sources said.

The 83-year-old mid­dle­man is also said to have named three Ger­man na­tion­als with ties to At­las who al­legedly pro­vided him with cash to bribe Greek of­fi­cials, Kathimerini un­der­stands.

Ad­di­tion­ally Ef­s­tathiou al­legedly ad­mit­ted to set­ting up three off­shore com­pa­nies, one to laun­der bribe money and the other two for his own pur­poses. The first firm was used to chan­nel a to­tal of 1.5 mil­lion eu­ros in bribes to armed forces of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to Ef­s­tathiou’s tes­ti­mony. A sim­i­lar-sized sum is said to have been given to An­to­nis Kan­tas, a for­mer pro­cure­ments man­ager at the De­fense Min­istry who has im­pli­cated sev­eral al­leged me­di­a­tors, in­clud­ing Ef­s­tathiou in a broad­en­ing probe.

Ac­cord­ing to Ef­s­tathiou’s tes­ti­mony, Kan­tas de­manded the cash to se­cure the con­tract for At­las which re­lated to the in­stal­la­tion of sonar on Ger­man U-214 sub­marines and the pur­chase of the anti-air­craft sys­tem As­rad.

To­day, mag­is­trates are to ques­tion another sus­pect in the probe, Dim­itris Pa­pachris­tos, who for­merly rep­re­sented another Ger­man firm, Krauss-Maf­fei Weg­mann. In his tes­ti­mony, Kan­tas claimed to have been given 750,000 eu­ros by Pa­pachris­tos to se­cure the sale of 24 self­pro­pelled how­itzers.

Lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Pa­pachris­tos, 78, have said their client is will­ing to co­op­er­ate with ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties but that he suf­fers from am­ne­sia.

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