NEWS

Submarine probe names ex minister

German court documents seen by Kathimerini name former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos as one of several recipients of alleged kickbacks linked to the purchase of submarines from a German firm a decade ago and implicate Hellenic Navy officials too.

An extract from the indictments brought against former executives of Ferrostaal on April 11 by a Munich prosecutor notes, ?The recipients of the payments in Greece were – apart from former Defense Minister Tsochatzopoulos – other individuals who are not known by name and who were competent in the relevant ministries and authorities, particularly the Hellenic Navy, for the concession and implementation of the contract for the submarines.?

The indictments were issued against the firm?s former vice president Hanfried Haun and special adviser Hans Muehlenbeck, who are charged with ?bribing officials in a member state of the European Union.?

According to the indictments, Haun denied bribing Greek officials but Muehlenbeck allegedly admitted bribes were made. The indictments were based on the testimony of Muehlenbeck and on evidence provided by Michalis Matantos, an employee of Ferrostaal?s office in Greece.

A fax allegedly sent by Matantos to Ferrostaal?s German offices on April 8, 2001 says, ?With our powerful friends in decision-making centers in Athens and with the current state of the defense budget, we have strong chances of landing the contract Poseidon 2.?

Three months earlier, the same employee allegedly sent a fax to a Greek government official, referred to as ?our friend,? inquiring about the dates of a planned visit to Germany by Tzochatzopoulos, then defense minister.