Former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was arrested on Wednesday on charges of money laundering linked to his alleged failure to declare a property he owns in central Athens on his origin of wealth (“pothen esches”) form in 2010. Meanwhile officers confiscated 10 bars of gold and gold sovereigns from searches on the home of his daughter and other relatives, according to state television.
Tsochatzopoulos was arrested outside his home on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street and taken to the headquarters of the Athens police, known by its acronym GADA, at around noon. The minister made no statements to reporters on arrival at GADA after which he was expected to face an investigating magistrate.
His arrest came swiftly after the decision by judicial authorities on Wednesday morning to issue an arrest warrant. Officers of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) were immediately dispatched to the former minister’s home. Later in the day, protesters staged a protest at the house.
According to Skai, another two people were arrested immediately after Tsochatzopoulos in Thessaloniki -- an entrepreneur and a cousin of the minister's believed to have operated an offshore firm allegedly used by the latter for the purchase of the Dionysiou Areopagitou home and other properties. Arrest warrants have been issued for another two individuals alleged to have helped Tsochatzopoulos conceal his assets, according to state television which said that up to 10 people were implicated in the affair.
Reacting to the news of the arrest, several of the smaller parties including the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalitin of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) questioned its timing, coming as it did on the day that early elections are expected to be announced.
On Tuesday, appeals prosecutor Galinos Bris had recommended that Tsochatzopoulos stand trial for declaring an income of almost 251,000 euros, which included two bank loans totaling 150,000 euros, but not the building on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street.
Tsochatzopoulos insists the property came into his possession after the form was submitted.