Ex-ministry cadre links top officials to deal kickbacks

Over four days of testimony before investigating magistrates, ex-Defense Ministry official Antonis Kantas is alleged to have implicated former minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos in under-the-table payments for the purchase of tanks and other defense procurements, Kathimerini understands.

Kantas, who was deputy head of procurements at the ministry between 1996 and 2002, during Tsochatzopoulos’s stint as minister, is said to have claimed that an unnamed associate of a Greek arms dealer had told him the firms he represented would be favored in procurement deals. The associate said this had been agreed in meetings between the dealer, identified only as T.L., and Tsochatzopoulos and Yiannis Sbokos, head of procurements at the ministry at the time.

Kantas also referred in his testimony to a meeting between him and T.L. in December 2001, when Yiannos Papantoniou was minister. During that meeting Kantas claimed the dealer asked him not to raise any objections to the planned purchase of German-made Leopard tanks, noting that the dealer left a bag containing 600,000 euros in his office.

Both Tsochatzopoulos and Sbokos are in prison following their convictions for laundering millions of euros in kickbacks from state defense deals.

Kantas has promised to try to return to the state some 16 million dollars he is alleged to have hidden in Singapore and Switzerland, Kathimerini understands.

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