Prosecutor gets file on ex-ministers and submarine deal

A Supreme Court prosecutor is to study the evidence in a case file sent to him on Thursday before deciding whether former defense ministers Yiannos Papantoniou, Spilios Spiliotopoulos and Vangelis Meimarakis should face any further investigation in connection to the purchase of four German submarines by the Hellenic Navy.

Sources said that the office of the Athens first instance court prosecutor had sent the file, which concerns events between 2002 and 2009, to Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Athanasios Katsirodis, who will have the final say on whether the details should be sent on to Parliament. Katsirodis is already studying another file, relating to events between 1998 and 2002, when Akis Tsochatzopoulos was defense minister.

New Democracy asked for the case to be fast-tracked ?because of the seriousness of the matter, the number of people implicated and because of the possible involvement of ministers who have served for the ruling party.?

A total of 37 people, including high-ranking members of the armed forces and businessmen, have been called by a prosecutor to answer questions about allegations of bribery linked to the purchase of the submarines.

Greece ordered the Type 214 diesel-electric submarines, manufactured by ThyssenKrupp in Germany, between 2001 and 2005 but the deal, worth 1.26 billion euros, was plagued by complications after Greece rejected the first submarine due to technical problems.

The prosecutor has called the 37 to testify as suspects after an investigation by the financial crimes squad (SDOE) uncovered evidence of under-the-table payments.

A complex system of offshore accounts, under-the-table payments and bogus invoices helped several people, including former members of the Defense Ministry, earn a combined total of 230 million euros in bribes, according to an investigation conducted by SDOE.

The investigators believe numerous bribes were paid before the contract was signed. One of the ways the bill was allegedly inflated, allowing for more under-the-table payments to be made, was for the navy and Defense Ministry to ask for the submarines to be fitted with all sorts of extra equipment.

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