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An arms businessman involved in bribery has been released on bail of 500,000 euro

03 January 2014 / 20:01:38  GRReporter
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Today, at its meeting, the court panel had to resolve disagreements between the investigation and the prosecutor regarding the punishment that should be imposed on defendant Panos Efstathiou, representative of the German company Atlas, in the case of arms procurement.

The court supported the prosecutor who insisted that the defendant should be released, but under restrictive conditions.

By its decision, the court imposed on the 83-year-old businessman a cash bail to the amount of 500,000 euro, a ban on leaving the country and an obligatory appearance at the police station three times per month.

Bribes given to the military

According to sources, Efstathiou has named at least 10 people, members of committees dealing with contracts for weapons programmes - the businessman admitted that he had bribed them as a representative of the German company Atlas Elektroniks in Greece.

At the same time, the accused has named three Germans, senior officials of Atlas, who shared the bribe, and has also mentioned a former head of "Hellenic Defence Systems" SA. He said that he had taken money in order to give it to Pavlos Nikolaidis, also head of "Hellenic Defence Systems" and the best man of former Defence Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos.

Investigators bombarded the accused businessman with questions about the extent to which Former chief secretary of weapons programmes Ioannis Sbokos was involved, as well as about Akis Ttsohadzopulos and Yoannos Papantoniou, about whom, however, he has not said anything.

The defendant was pressured by investigators, who insisted that he should name all the people from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy in the Ministry of Defence, to whom he gave bribes.

The 83-year-old businessman has admitted that he distributed bribes totalling 3 million euro. Later, he agreed to the opening of his bank accounts.

His defence counsel Michalis Dimitrakopoulos said earlier that the businessman was ready to cooperate with authorities and name those who were involved in money laundering.

It is noted that Panos Efstathiou has already given evidence at the Prosecutor’s Office in Bremen, since in the 1980s he represented Rheinmetall (now Atlas) and was responsible for the equipment of the U214 submarine with sonar systems under the contract "Poseidon 2". It was a contract for the improvement of submarines which was signed in 2002 at a time when Yoannos Papantoniou was Defence Minister.

The 83-year-old businessman was the first to have been summoned by investigator Gabriel Malisse in the case of distributed bribes in connection with arms deliveries, following Antonis Kantas’s disclosures.

According to the testimony of Kantas, Panos Efstathiou gave a bribe amounting to 1.5 million euro for the two arms transactions involving German submarines type 214 and aircraft systems Asrad; he also gave another 1 million euro to a former senior official in the Ministry of Defence at the time of the Government of Zolotas in 1989 for the improvement of the M48 tanks.

After a 12-hour stay in the court and his long defence speech, Efstathiou felt unwell and sat on a sofa in front of the office of the investigator. An ambulance was called and the 83-year-old businessman was taken to the Erithros Stavros Hospital (Red Cross).

Tags: Panos Efstathiou proceedings bribery Atlas arms procurement
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