The Head of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office, Eleni Raikou, ordered the blocking of the bank accounts of former Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and the other four defendants accused of money laundering.
Eleni Raikou requested that all bank accounts held by the five defendants in Greece be blocked, and a special investigator, occupied with the case, has issued a warrant for their arrest, as he believes they might hide.
In addition to the former minister, who will be questioned on the Monday after Easter, this blocking of the accounts also affects Nikos Zigras (Tsohatzopoulos’ cousin who is, according to the prosecutor, his "right hand"), Efrosini Lambropoulou (accountant, representative in Greece of the three offshore companies which are believed to be owned by the former Defence minister), Giorgos Sahpatsidis (a businessman, involved in the purchase of real estate between the company TORCASO and the Vatopedi monastery), and Asterios Economidis (the main shareholder in a company that has renovated the house on "Dionisiou Areopagitou" St. and sold to the daughter of the former Prime Minister apartments on "Dinokratous" St. in the prestigious neighborhood of Kolonaki).
The first three will be heard on Tuesday and the last defendant Economidis was arrested on Maundy Thursday after being questioned before the magistrate.
It should be noted that the prosecutor's conclusion on this case speaks of a network of people and offshore companies who have helped the former minister for over 10 years to conceal the traces of the illegal payments through dozens of bank accounts in Greece and abroad, as well as virtual and actual buying and selling of real estate.
The conclusion, consisting of 206 pages, was prepared by the county prosecutors Evgenia Kyvelou and Eleni Siskou, who studied the financial state of the former minister. In their conclusion, they state that the defendants "have created and participated in networking for the legalization of revenues earned through many years of taking bribes to the detriment of the state."
"Through a complex network of partners, agents, bank accounts, business contacts in different countries, created by the above mentioned persons huge amounts of money have been transferred, concealed, and invested ", states the conclusion.
According to the prosecutors, the amounts concealed by Tsohatzopoulos are related to illegal compensation from arms deliveries performed by him while he was Defence minister.
Who is Akis Tsohatzopoulos?
He participated in the resistance against the junta (1967-1974). He was a close associate of Andreas Papandreou. He participated in all of the governments of PASOK from 1981 to 2004. He was about to become Prime Minister in 1996, when Andreas Papandreou resigned, but he lost with a few votes difference to Costas Simitis. He managed to build an impressive career before facing justice.
In 2004 in Paris Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who is now 73 years old, got married for the second time to Vicky Stamati, who is 35 years younger than him. The wedding took place in the luxurious hotel «Four Seasons», where the groom arrived in a brilliant blue "Jaguar".
For his holidays Tsohatzopoulos prefers the luxurious bungalows in Lagonissi. He likes to live in luxury homes. Before he acquired the neoclassical house on "Dionisiou Areopagitou" St. he lived in a house in Psychico.
The arrest warrant of the longtime minister from the fall of the junta in 1974 until today was a pleasant surprise for Greek society. The general sense of impunity of the politicians began to shake. To overcome this feeling, the "purge" should be continued. So as not to remain only "fireworks" aimed at destroying a politician out of the government, abandoned by his followers.
His origin does not suggest his move to the top of politics. Akis Tsohatzopoulos is the son of a bus driver in Thessaloniki. When he was still young his family moved to Thessaloniki. At the age of 19, after graduating high school, Tsohatzopoulos emigrated to Germany to work and study. In the mid-60s he graduated as an engineer. He became interested in politics in a period of violent events that ended with the imposition of dictatorship in 1967.
In 1968 he settled in Munich. There he joined the Panhellenic Liberation Movement of Andreas Papandreou, who was fighting against the junta. He quickly became a loyal friend and helpful associate of the future Prime Minister. In 1970 he was promoted to secretary of the Panhellenic movement for Western Europe. After the fall of the dictatorship, he followed the founder of PASOK in Greece. He supported him on his way to power and became a minister in his government.
Akis Tsohatzopoulos met his first wife Gudrun Moldenhauer in Munich, where they got married. At that time he was a student and worked in a company for cleaning windows. She worked as a secretary in a company where Akis cleaned windows. They got divorced after 30 years of marriage, during which they had two daughters.
With his first wife Gudrun Moldenhauer
The "handsome Brummell" of PASOK
Andreas Papandreou was the first one to call Akis Tsohatzopoulos the "handsome Brummell". The real Handsome Brummell lived in England during the 18th century. He managed to gain the friendship of King George IV and enter the royal court. He believed that he himself should also live like a king. He is one of the founders of the London "dandy" fashion.