NEWS

Russian lottery’s many tentacles spread to Cyprus, Germany and Switzerland

A year ago, Kathimerini revealed Kokkalis’s dealings with the Russian lottery, noting that the matter was under investigation by Geneva prosecutor Bernard Bertossa. At issue was a 15-million-dollar deposit which the Swiss company Sectro SA had received from the Russian state-run National Fund of Sports (NFS). Though it never fulfilled its side of the contract, Sectro retained the capital and invested it. Kokkalis’s Russian partners wrote to Bertossa on July 14, 2000, saying that Kokkalis was the owner of Sectro, and describing him as follows: «A Greek citizen, formerly an East German citizen, known for his secret activities and his deep involvement in a large number of political and commercial exchanges.» Kathimerini wrote that there was ample evidence of serious offenses committed during Kokkalis’s six-year dispute with the NFS, including bribery, illegal capital transfers, extortion, overpricing, and infringements of tax, banking and customs regulations. After Kokkalis’s unsuccessful attempt to bog down the Russian claim in Swiss arbitration and a civil case, the NFS filed a suit with Bertossa in April 2001, which is still under way, though Kokkalis’s legal team tried to have it withdrawn. During the investigation, it also became known that Vitaly Smirnov, a Russian IOC official, president of Olympic Lottery (of which Intracom has controlled 48.68 percent since 1992) and close friend of Kokkalis, together with Markos Siapanis (another Olympic lottery shareholder), appeared to have invested 1.3 million dollars in MS & C Holdings, a Cyprus company controlled by Siapanis. On April 16, 1998, Smirnov had invested in the company and made loans to third parties at 15-percent interest. Apart from Intracom and MS & C holdings, which participated directly in Olympic Lottery, in contracts and subsequent transfer agreements in which deposits and debts were shifted about in a peculiar fashion, another company, Bios Holdings Ltd, was also involved. Tamil rebels The Prontoservus and Maninter companies are shareholders in a Cypriot company registered at 36 Vyronos Avenue, the same address as lawyer Pollakis Sarris. And by coincidence, Prontoservus turns out to have a symbolic stake in Intracom Cyprus Ltd (represented by K. Tsoukalidis, Siapanis and Sarris), and it is also a shareholder in Rondonia Navigation Co Ltd, which undisputed evidence shows is owned by LTTE, a company belonging to Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka, who head the list of dangerous terrorist organizations published recently by US Secretary of State Colin Powell. The many-tentacled case of the Russian lottery, the involvement of Kokkalis and so many supposedly unknown offshore companies does not end there. Sources say that in addition to the case currently being tried by a Geneva court, a similar case will be coming up for trial again in Moscow.