NEWS

Files and accounts to be opened

Before charging Kokkalis with six felonies on Tuesday, Senior Prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos conducted three top-secret preliminary investigations. Two of the charges concern the case of the Russian lottery and the role played by offshore companies which apparently belong to Kokkalis and his friends and partners, and which over a number of years absorbed and invested Russian public money. These charges were drawn up by Ioannis Sakkelakos after Kathimerini published a series of articles on the subject, starting last February. Another preliminary inquiry which Sakkelakos ordered in November 2000 stemmed from accusations made by New Democracy deputy Panayiotis Kammenos about bribes to public officials (in the state telecom utility, OTE) from Kokkalis’s accounts at Handels Bank, and about the existence of official documents showing that the Intracom president had been a spy for the East German secret police, the Stasi. Some of the witnesses called by Papangelopoulos are said to have been examined more than 15 times. Now the charges have been laid, the case will be handled by the investigating judge who is to be appointed within the next few days. Given the seriousness of the charges (spying and money laundering), the Plenary Appeals Council may decide to send the case for trial to a higher court. It is certain that bank accounts belonging to Kokkalis and his colleagues and which are connected with transfers of capital via the former East German Handels Bank, the Russian lottery and offshore companies will now be opened. The court will also ask German, Swiss and Russian authorities for information about legal action now in process in connection with the lost Russian funds. The prosecutor who laid the charges will probably ask the investigating judge to secure the cooperation of court officials in Cyprus, Switzerland and Ireland in order to suspend confidentiality restrictions concerning offshore companies involved in the Russian lottery. Kokkalis’s response «Once more, well-known circles, through the same political personalities and through the newspapers which have made a specialty, in accordance with their orders, in waging a war against me, are acting as so-called providers of information and seekers of truth in lodging completely unfounded accusations. It is by no means the first time they have done this, as I have been accused of similar actions in the past, but these collapsed in court. «I categorically state that these current charges will also collapse, for the simple reason that I have had absolutely no involvement in any kind of criminal act. «I also state, with regard to the accusation of alleged espionage (which offends me both as a human being and as a Greek citizen and which has been made in the past by the same politician and has been investigated by the courts), that I will take action against any person responsible for once again blackening my name and my honor, as well as for any resulting damage to my business activities, a pioneering group of businesses that has won international recognition and a presence on the world business scene, employing thousands of people and winning the confidence of tens of thousands of investors. «All those who publicly and repeatedly libel me will eventually have to assume their responsibilities when these accusations collapse.»