Ex-minister?s family in the spotlight

Ten people who have been implicated in a money-laundering network that prosecutors believe was used by former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos to conceal millions of euros in under-the-table payments from defense procurement deals — including the ex-minister?s daughter Areti and his wife Viki Stamati — were on Thursday given an extension to prepare their defense and are to appear before an investigating magistrate next week.

Stamati, who is the owner of a dubiously purchased residence on the exclusive Dionysiou Aeropagitou Street, which flanks the Acropolis, was heckled by bystanders as she arrived at the capital?s main court complex to face magistrate Gavriil Mallis. When she returns next Friday, she is expected to repeat the line of defense she gave when called to testify last summer, namely that her husband had handled all the couple?s finances.

The prosecutors believe Stamati?s assets — the house on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street and deposits in foreign bank accounts — were acquired from the kickbacks Tsochatzopoulos received from defense deals.

According to the prosecutors? report, large sums of money entered Stamati?s accounts in Greece and in the Swiss bank UBS between 2006 and 2009. Stamati is said to have given the Athens home of her brother, Panayiotis, as the mailing address for her bank statements. According to prosecutors, the latter was employed by the firm Nobilis — one of three offshore companies implicated in the money-laundering network — which carried out renovations to the house before it was purchased by Stamati in 2010.

Under-the-table payments are also believed to have been used in the acquisition of the home of the ex-minister?s daughter Areti in the affluent central Athens district of Kolonaki.

She is believed to own a second property in Kolonaki, another in Kallithea and two plots of land in Patissia. In a bid to conceal the extent of her assets, she took out 2.4 million euros in bank loans over the years, prosecutors said.

Offshore companies are believed to have mediated in all the property purchases in order to hide the fact that they involved money from kickbacks.