NEWS

Was PASOK on the take?

The German parliamentary investigation into the dealings of Greek businessman Socrates Kokkalis with the security apparatus of the former East Germany turned up a suggestion that he was involved in funneling 2 percent of the value of trade between the two countries to the ruling PASOK party. Witnesses who were said to be directly involved, however, contradicted each other in confirming this. Kokkalis, 63, lived in East Germany before coming to Greece in 1965. A Greek prosecutor charged him on Tuesday with espionage for East Germany, fraud, money laundering, embezzlement and giving and taking bribes. He has denied the charges. The 1998 parliamentary report which was made public a few months ago said that Kokkalis’s account at Deutsche Handelsbank showed that between 1986 and 1991 this account held (from purchases, overcharging and bonuses) amounts of 1.7 million marks and $11 million, most of which were transferred to Swiss accounts. «In a way, (the funds) functioned as ‘a means to affect the market’ in Greece, in other words to ‘affect favorably’ public agreements as the outdated telecommunications equipment of the DDR (German Democratic Republic) would not be competitive in a Western country under free market conditions,» the report said. Evidence from the East German Ministry of State Security (MFS) showed that in January 1985, Dr Roland Winckler (who was the MFS go-between with Kokkalis when the latter worked as a secret agent from 1963 to 1968), was given the means by the foreign trade minister, Dr Gerhard Bell, «to investigate the possibility of supporting the then governing party of Greece, PASOK. Dr Winckler then suggested that 2 percent of the total value of trade agreements with Greece should be ‘skimmed’ for this end. Witness Willy Koch (a former East German agent) confirmed this process during his testimony before the Federal Service for Crime Prosecution and also to the investigating committee,» the report said. However, «despite pressing questions and the presentation of documentary proof,» Winckler first could not remember the issue and later «denied categorically that he received any order from Dr Bell (with regard to funding PASOK),» it added. Deutsche Welle radio’s Greek service yesterday quoted the parliamentary committee’s chairman, Volker Neumann, as saying: «The Greek authorities could make use of the evidence gathered by my committee… and could question all the witnesses who might help shed light on the case. This applies to STASI witnesses as well, if they are still alive.» Meanwhile, the board of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) paid a scheduled call on Kokkalis’s INTRACOM telecoms supply company yesterday. «The Greek businessman is being persecuted and our country, unfortunately, does not want to help enterprise with the way that it should,» SEV president Odysseas Kyriakopoulos said.