Defense kickbacks probe gathering pace

Searches over the past few days at the Athens home of businessman Thomas Liakounakos and the Munich offices of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) have turned up documents, computer hard drives and other evidence in an investigation by prosecutors into the alleged payment of millions of euros in bribes to Greek officials for the sale of tanks, helicopters and other defense supplies, Kathimerini understands.

Prosecutors appear to have made progress in their probe into the key players who sealed deals, particularly as regards the purchase of Leopard tanks and Apache helicopters.

Liakounakos is alleged to have been instrumental in clinching many deals.

On the political level, the probe is focusing on associates close to Yiannos Papantoniou, who was defense minister from 2001 to 2004. Prosecutors have asked for access to several bank accounts and are awaiting the outcome of checks on that of Papantoniou’s brother-in-law, Giorgos Kandalepas. The latter is being probed for allegedly depositing 1.5 million euros into the account of Stavroula Kourakou, Papantoniou’s wife.

Meanwhile, Antonis Kantas, an ex general secretary for procurements who has admitted to receiving bribes from foreign arms firms, was given conditional release from custody late on Friday after posting 200,000 euros in bail. He is said to have identified recipients of kickbacks. Kantas himself has returned 15 million euros in kickbacks.

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