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Commissions played a major role in terms of armament, according to the apocalyptic evidence of Antonis Kantas

28 December 2013 / 19:12:27  GRReporter
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Antonis Kantas’s evidence about the way in which commissions were collected has triggered a political earthquake. Commissions were received in offices, churches, bank accounts abroad, etc. A former prime minister, various ministers and a party leader supported certain defence systems in parliament... Subpoenas to testify have been sent to traders, agents, managers of offshore companies and other businessmen, following a joint decision of the investigation and the Prosecutor’s Office. Some will be accompanied by an arrest warrant.

The retired officer told everything before investigators Gabriel Malisse and Ioannis Stavropoulou and prosecutors Eugenia Kouvelou, Eleni Siskou and Antonis Elefterianou:

"They gave me money in order not to have remarks or delays," said the 71-year-old former deputy director for armament. He named arms dealers Panagiotis Efstathiou, Konstantinos Diafermos, Pavlos Nikolaidis, Lambros Bardzokas, Dimitris Papachristos, Christos Toumbas, Konstantinos Balerbas, Thomas Liakounakos and others.

In his evidence and with the help of his lawyers, Antonis Kantas revealed names, amounts and bank accounts in Switzerland, as well as the route of bribes, which reached 11 million euro. Another 4 million euro that was discovered included bribes before 1997, as well as millions of appropriate investments, according to his statements. He received these at the time of the Government of Zolotas, i.e. in 1989, and according to Kantas bribery offences involve both PASOK and New Democracy.

According to Kantas, there were suspicious deliveries not only during his term, when Akis Tsochatzopoulos was Defence Minister, but also during the term of Janos Papantoniou. He described a case when a representative of a defence company "forgot" a travel bag containing 600,000 euro in his office in the Ministry of Defence:

"... He left it on the couch in my office. When I found it, I went and told him, "You forgot your bag" and he said "I have not – it is for you". When I opened it, I found 600,000 euro... and actually I had no objections in terms of the delivery."

He also explained that he received money via offshore companies which, however, he does not remember exactly today.

A bribe for the submarines

"I was in the Armaments Directorate to the Ministry of Defence from 1997 to 5 April 2002; I was appointed at the request of the then Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos ... In early 1999, Panos Efstathiou, who was a representative of the German company SNT ATLAS, came to my office and told me about the delivery of 214 submarines from the German partnership Ferrostaal - HDW. He told me that it was decided at all levels and asked me to move the programme without delay, and without remarks. He told me that he would give me half a per cent if I did it... I accepted and received a total of about 600,000 euro. The money was deposited gradually and over long periods - about six months after signing the contract, depending on the time when they received payments from the German company SNT ATLAS.

That is why Efstathiou introduced me to Fanis Liginos (a Swiss banker with Greek and Swiss citizenship) who sent me forms for the opening of personal accounts which I signed. He opened an account for me at Dresdner Bank in Geneva in my name (number, as well as another sub-account. The first amount which was deposited into this account was a small sum amounting to 80,000 euro... The account was closed in 2005. Earlier, Efstathiou had deposited money in my account at ΒΑΝΚ HOFMANN in Zurich. The account was opened in 1997 and closed in 2000. Liginos opened an account for me at ΒΝΡ PARIBAS, in which a total of 600,000 euro was deposited.

The “kourkoumpini” offshore account

In 2005, Liginos changed the bank. He went to ΒΝΡ PARiBAS and both Efstathiou and I followed him. In this way another account was opened - I think it was in an offshore zone where contributions which came in 2005 were deposited under the respective name. Efstathiou always transferred the money via offshore accounts.

"Besides submarines, Efstathiou promised me 1.5% of the value of the programme for system management and control of the anti-aircraft missile system STINGER ASRAD, also manufactured by SNT ATLAS. The total cost of the programme amounted to 60-70 million euro. I received a total of 1.5 million euro. I do not have evidence that Efstathiou paid for the submarines either. However, I have the feeling that he had access to the Army General Staff. The amounts were transferred by offshore companies into the same personal accounts which I had at Dresdner, HOFMANN and BNP. After that, I think that Spyros Metaxas opened an offshore account, and I was its administrator...

Illegal fees for a Russian anti-tank system

"...I also received an illegal fee for the Kornet anti-tank missiles, which the Ministry delivered on behalf of the land forces from the Russian company KPB. The total value of the supplies amounted to 100 million dollars or euro. My commission was impressively large - 3% of the value of the programme. Konstantinos Dafermos represented the manufacturing company, whom I did not know initially. Then, in 2000, two events happened: at the Greek- Russian meeting on cooperation in defence, my Russian colleague approached me and told me that the delivery could be made via the state-owned company, renamed to ROSOBONEXPORT... Manufacturer ΚΒΡ learned about that and a senior official of the company, accompanied by Mr Dafermos came to my office one day. Another representative of KBP asked whether we had had any problems with Mr Dafermos, since another Greek source informed them that there had been problems with the judiciary. I replied that I had no such information.

A few days later, he visited me and thanked me and asked me what I wanted from this contract. I said nothing and upon leaving he told me that he would give me 3%, which amounted to 3 million dollars or euro. I did not believe it, but actually I was given a large part, 700,000 in cash in Greece and the rest was deposited in my account at UBS in Geneva...

The bank asked me about it and I told them that it was a fee for a technical and financial study. I received 700,000 in 2 instalments in late 2001 and early 2002. I received them in his office and at the beginning I hid them in the basement of my home, and then - in my safe at CITI BANK in Faliro. I was very surprised when the scandal with Siemens broke out in 2008 and my name was mentioned in it. Allegedly, Prodromos Mavridis’s offshore company Martha Holdings transferred the amount into my personal Swiss account. But the money was not from Siemens; it was from KPB for KORNET systems...

"Nikolaidis also asked me for money"

In 2002, I met Pavlos Nikolaidis. He was a close friend and best man of Akis Tsochatzopoulos. He asked me to transfer to him some of the money which I had received from Dafermos. When I told him (Dafermos), he told me that he had arranged everything...

I got 1.7 million for air defence systems

"The General Staff had decided for the short-range air defence system OSA ΑΜΚ at the amount of 100 million in 1998... At that time we had a meeting in Moscow... Lambros Bardzokas appeared as a representative and translator of the Russian state company... He said that if the programme continued, I would receive a generous gift..."

In total, from 1999 to 2003-2004, the company transferred 1.7 million dollars to the Swiss bank FERRIER Lullin in Geneva... One of the remittances came from New York.

"I also received a commission for the WEGMANN system. The General Staff had asked the Minister to deliver the specific self-propelled guns, the representative of which was Dimitris Papachristos... He told me that I would receive a commission to the amount of 0.5% of the value of the programme, or 150 million euro. Following the signing of the contract, a bank account was opened in UBP in Zurich. The money was deposited via the company OXYLOS, which he owned... He gave me cash in his office in Bucharest..."

After that Kantas explained that Ioannis Toumbas had transferred 150,000 euro for the ASEP monitoring system. He also received about 240,000 euro from businessman Balerbas for the ARTHUR radar produced by ERICSSON.

A bribe for the Mirage aircraft

"I received a commission to the amount of 800,000 euro from the programme for the delivery of Mirage aircraft from Pavlos Nikolaidis in 3-4 instalments... He accompanied a Greek from Rhodes, a friend of Prime Minister Jospin... The first instalment was delivered in my office in the Ministry, and the rest - in my private office... I also received a commission in cash from the Director of the company Kestrel, Komnopoulos, who represented the company EXOSET. He visited me in my office. He gave me 400,000 euro in the period 2001-2004.

"...The next programme was for 2 LOPARD with a provider KRAUSSMAFFEI WEGMANN. It was represented by Thomas Liakounakos. He had mediated many weapons programmes. I met him in 1988. I do not remember how much money he gave me..."

According to Kantas, the first talks between Liakounakos, Sbokos and Tsochatzopoulos were held in the political office of Tsochatzopoulos. "I was informed that Tsochatzopoulos would receive the money from the companies, Yiannis Sbokos - from Liakounakos, and from Apostolou at a lower level. After that, Liakounakos tried to meet me, sending Apostolou and Arkoumaneas.

"Do not take the weapons"

"When Yiannis Papantoniou became Minister, I had prepared to resign. He did not accept my resignation, and then I told him why the programme for the Leopard 2 was running, that the costs of the programme were very large and that it was unnecessary. He replied that we could not refuse the military because both the Air Force and Navy had already received something... After that he did not call me any more. In December, I received Liakounakos in my office late in the afternoon, and he told me not to object to the procedure of the delivery of Leopard2. He carried a travel bag with him…" Here Kantas talked about the aforementioned 600,000 euro...

Question: If you received 600,000 euro in order not to object, in your opinion, how much did those who submitted and approved the programme (Travlos and Papantoniou) receive?

Answer: Since I received 600,000 euro, given that I left before the signing and implementation of the programme, it is not possible that the people mentioned by you did not receive commissions, and I think the amounts were larger...

"Also, in 1989, under the government of Zolotas, the General Staff was in a hurry to sign a contract for the upgrade of the M48 weapons, which were American, with German technology. At the time, Efstathiou had given me 1 million euro at the current exchange rate. The other 2 million euro came in small amounts from Liakounakos..."

After that Kantas explained that bribes left Greece via intermediaries with suitcases, as well as that he invested in euro and that his intermediary Spyros Metaxas knew that the money came from illegal activity...

Party interweaving

"I want to add that party interweaving is obvious from the fact that upon the delivery of the aircraft to the parliamentary committee, which I attended, Mitsotakis provided detailed arguments in favour of the delivery of F-16 and Evert - of F-15. This surprised me, because they were of one party. Tsochatzopoulos supported Evert. When they chose F-16, a phrase circulated in the corridors of the Ministry of Defence - that Mitsotakis beat the Minister," added Kantas. He also stated that he was sorry and that he would return all the money.

Tags: Antonis Kantas Ministry of Defence armament programmes bribery
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