Ex-ministry official gives more details of arms contract kickbacks

The ex-Defense Ministry official who admitted this week accepting kickbacks from arms dealers continued his testimony on Friday as sources said that a second person, involved as a middleman in the procurement deals, could be willing to give evidence.

Antonis Kantas, deputy head of procurements at the ministry between 1996 and 2002, continued to provide details about the bribes. He admitted that he received around 16 million dollars that had been stashed away in Singapore and Switzerland in return for helping to agree at least 10 arms deals.

Kantas has named eight people who allegedly acted as middlemen in the agreements. Some, he said, brought cash in suitcases. The ex-ministry official also informed Gavriil Mallis, a magistrate who investigates corruption scandals, about the identities of two Swiss financiers that allegedly helped him launder the money.

Kantas also suggested that it would have been highly unlikely that other officials, both those in superior positions and those who served below him, did not receive illicit payments as well. However, court sources said the retired official did not implicate ex-Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou. Kantas only served under Papantoniou for four months. His superiors during the rest of the time were Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who served as defense minister, and Yiannis Sbokos, who was in charge of procurements. Both are in prison for money laundering.

It also emerged that another person could be willing to step forward with evidence about the under-the-table payments. Sources said he has details of the bribes paid and who received them.

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