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Germans admit bribes for subs

 Former executives put figure at some 120 million euros as parliamentary committee prepares for probe
A parliamentary committee is investigating the controversial submarine deal and particularly the role of former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos.

At least 120 million euros was paid in bribes by the German firm that struck a deal with the Greek government for the sale of four navy submarines, according to German court documents seen by Kathimerini.

The parliamentary committee that will investigate the deal, and particularly the role of former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, met for the first time on Tuesday, as more details emerged about the alleged corruption involved in the agreement.

Two former executives of Ferrostaal, the Germany firm that was part of the consortium which won the contract, gave depositions in Munich concerning the kickbacks paid to secure the deal, which was worth just over 1.2 billion euros.

According to court documents seen by Kathimerini, the first illicit payment of 32 million euros was made in May 2000. The money was deposited into a Swiss bank account but the two former Ferrostaal employees said they did not know who the recipient was. The executives said their main aim had been to win over a “top level” official in the Defense Ministry.

Greece ordered the four Type 214 diesel-electric submarines, manufactured by ThyssenKrupp in Germany, between 2001 and 2005. In their deposition, the Ferrostaal officials said that they met Tsochatzopoulos but did not suggest that he received any money directly.

The members of Parliament who will be investigating the ex-defense minister agreed on Tuesday to also look at how all the ministers that succeeded him handled the submarines deal.

Meanwhile, an Athens prosecutor on Tuesday issued bribery charges against unidentified individuals over the purchase in 2002 of 142 trolley buses from the German truck manufacturer MAN AG. The move will now lead to witnesses being called before specific suspects are charged.

Christos Verelis resigned as a PASOK MP in May 2009 after being implicated in the scandal as he was transport minister when the deal took place.

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday May 3, 2011 (22:44)  
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