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A second minister followed Tsochatzopoulos’ path to the weapons supplies

13 March 2014 / 15:03:34  GRReporter
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The Greek judicial authorities are continuing the investigation of the "black money" related to the weapons supplies after the trial against former Minister of Defence Akis Tsochatzopoulos. Investigator Gabriel Malis, who is in charge of the overall investigation of the case, called for questioning the wife of another prominent PASOK member who held senior ministerial positions in key departments for years. She is Yiannos Papantoniou’s wife Roula Kourakou. She was summoned to explain the origin of two million euro found in a bank account in her name in the Swiss bank HSBC. The account is on the so-called "Lagarde list" and Papantoniou’s wife was requested to explain how she had obtained the amount deposited in the bank account and give her consent for its opening.
 
According to court sources, the investigators had asked Roula Kourakou if the sum of 1.3 million euro was related to the weapons supplies from the period when her husband headed the military department. In response, she explained that the money was intended for her two children and had nothing to do with any illegal activity or bribes received in connection with the weapons contracts. She had even stated that she would not mind opening all her bank accounts to prove her testimony. Associates of her husband claim that the examination of Roula Kourakou had been completed within five minutes.

In connection with the property status of the couple, the investigation is focused on two reports of the service combating financial crime, which describe the sum of 2.8 million euro and bank accounts in Swiss and Greek banks. The money found in accounts that are not on the "Lagarde list" amounts to 1.35 million euro.

Summoning Roula Kourakou as a witness in the investigation of the weapons supplies was the first action of the judicial authorities that connected the Papantoniou family with the financial scandal. It is not yet clear whether the amount was associated with the purchase of submarines or of TOR-M1 weapons systems.
 
In addition to Yiannos Papantoniou’s wife, the Kandalepas family, whose members are their first witnesses, was questioned too. According to the investigation, they had paid an amount of 1 million euro into Roula Kourakou’s bank account. In their testimony, the spouses claim that they had given her money to help her financially, but refused to give their consent to open their bank accounts.
 
Yiannos Papantoniou and his wife are charged in connection with the account of 2 million euro that is on the "Lagarde list". The charges against the two are for providing inaccurate information on how they had obtained the money. The main argument of the former minister is that the amount is the personal property of his wife and is intended for her two children from her previous marriage. According to him, this money had been handed over to Roula Kourakou's children in 2010.

Yiannos Papantoniou is one of the most prominent representatives of PASOK, the party that ruled Greece for more than 20 years. From 1994 to 2004, he held the posts of Minister of Economy, Minister of Economy and Finance and Minister of Defence (from October 2001 to March 2004). He associates his name with Greece’s accession to the euro zone.

According to sources, the investigator is striving to open the bank account of businessman Yiannis Kandalepas as soon as possible in order to be able to continue the investigation in all directions.

Meanwhile, Syrian businessman Fouad al Zayat has expressed in a letter to the investigators his readiness to collaborate with the Greek judicial authorities in the cases of the weapons supplies.

Court sources say that he can testify even now, although he is a defendant in the trial of Cyprus’ former Minister of Interior Dinos Michailidis relating to the military supplies to Cyprus. It is worth noting that Zayat is considered a key figure in the allocation of "black money" through bribes for supplies of Russian weapons systems TOR-M1. Despite Zayat’s claims that he does not know Nikos Zigras (convicted and a main witness in the case of the bribes received by his cousin Akis Tsochatzopoulos) he indicates him as the holder of a large bank account in Lebanon, which has not been declared to the Greek authorities.

Tags: Crime newsBribesWeapons suppliesYiannos PapantoniouAkis TsochatzopoulosNikos ZigrasFouad al Zayat
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