Authorities seek access to ex-minister’s foreign bank accounts

Authorities seek access to ex-minister’s foreign bank accounts

A Greek investigative-magistrate has sought the opening of bank accounts held by former Socialist defense minister Yiannos Papantoniou in five European countries, as part of an investigation into charges of money laundering linked to alleged bribes from a state defense contract.

Papantoniou has denied charges according to which he laundered 2.8 million euros in Swiss Francs that he is alleged to have pocketed in exchange for securing a contract in 2003 to upgrade six Hellenic Navy frigates.

According to sources, judicial officials have sent requests to banks in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Cyprus and Switzerland, where the former minister is alleged to have bank accounts. 

Papantoniou, who was born in Paris and is a French national, has rejected allegations that his bank accounts in France contain money from illegal activities but has objected to their being opened all the same, according to sources.

Zamanika has also submitted a request to French judicial authorities to question a French national who worked in a company involved in the frigate deal. The former executive, who has been convicted for a series of crimes in France, alleged briberies were paid in Greece as part of the deal.

As part of the probe, Zamanika is also looking into Papantoniou's acquisition and sale of a summer house on the island of Syros. The former minister and his wife claim the transaction was legal, but the fact that the person who sold the house to Papantoniou was the same person who deposited cash in Swiss bank accounts on his behalf prompted authorities to investigate it further.

Meanwhile, the Greek Parliament has to decide whether the statute of limitations applies to the bribery allegations leveled against Papantoniou.

The former minister and his wife Stavroula Kourakou are held in Attica’s high-security Korydallos Prison, after judicial authorities deemed them a flight risk as they rent a second home in Switzerland and have bank accounts there.

The judicial officials also deemed that the pair could commit further offenses if allowed to go free.

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