NEWS

Swiss launch probe into Greek ex-defense minister’s assets

With the trial of former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos for money laundering just over a week away, an investigation is reportedly under way into whether individuals based in Switzerland helped the one-time socialist strongman conceal the trail of millions of euros in kickbacks he is alleged to have pocketed from military procurement contracts during his tenure.

According to Reuters, Swiss prosecutors have frozen 10 million Swiss francs (the equivalent of 8.2 million euros) in assets linked to Tsochatzopoulos and are probing possible links between the latter and Swiss-based individuals.

The Swiss federal prosecution service said it was probing several claims of money laundering reported by banks following Tsochatzopoulos’s arrest in April last year, according to Reuters. “This poses significant reputational risks not only for the banks involved but for Switzerland as a whole,” according to an extract from the report.

Last month, the 73-year-old was sentenced to eight years in prison for failing to accurately declare his income on wealth declaration forms in 2008 and 2009, a verdict that the former minister described as being “politically motivated.”

Tsochatzopoulos’s trial for money laundering, where a conviction would carry a much larger sentence, is to begin in Athens on April 22.