NEWS

Eight arms deals under the microscope

Judicial authorities investigating possible illegal bribes and kickbacks

Up to eight arms deals signed by the Greek government since the late 1990s are being investigated by judicial authorities for possible illegal bribes and kickbacks to state officials and politicians, Kathimerini understands.

Some of these investigations, such as the purchase of four hovercraft from Russia and Ukraine, are at a preliminary stage while others, such as the purchase of US-made Patriot missiles and the Greek army?s Hermes program, are in the hands of an investigating magistrate, according to Kathimerini.

Investigators are probing bank accounts and offshore companies in a bid to trace millions of euros received by senior state officials as sweeteners for the arms deals. Kathimerini understands that two cases involve possible offenses committed by two defense ministers who served before 2006.

?Each and every arms procurement program is currently being probed for kickbacks and political money,? an unnamed source said.

?Perhaps the Athens prosecutor?s office would need a special department and special investigating magistrates,? to probe the defense procurements in detail, the source added.

Former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who is currently in custody in Athens?s Korydallos Prison, is awaiting charges for money laundering. Tsochatzopoulos, a former Socialist, is alleged to have pocketed millions of euros in kickbacks during his stint as minister between 1996 and 2001.

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