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Society

Former Greek Defense Minister, Wife, Face Contract Bribery Charges

July 26, 2018

ATHENS – Former Socialist Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and his wife Stavroula Kourakou, who were allowed to buy out four-year jail sentences at the rate of 10 euros ($11.71) a day, will appear before a corruption magistrate in September on charges of taking bribes from defense contracts.

While allowed to stay free, they are being investigated anew over the alleged laundering of some one million euros ($1.17 million) tied to a Greek Navy frigate arms program in 2003, but are not being detained because they said they need a couple of months to look over the file.

They had earlier been found to have hidden 1.3 million euros ($1.48 million) in a Swiss bank account but said it was provided by his wife’s former husband as a type of trust fund for their two children. But they didn’t say why if they weren’t hiding it why they didn’t declare it.

In May, judicial officials carried out secret raids at his home and office to look further into allegations of bribe-taking and money laundering during his term as defense minister after the year 2000 when he took over from Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 20 years in jail but allowed to leave after little more than two years because of poor health.

A parliamentary committee investigating defense deals signed by Papantoniou when he was minister from 2001-04 asked Greek prosecutors to determine whether transactions involving his accounts point toward money laundering.

The ex-minister and his wife claimed there was no attempt to hide the Swiss cash, which they said

A retired tax bureau auditor assigned the case said all of the transactions involving the account by the couple between 2000 and 2010 revealed an attempt to export money from Greece secretly.

A prosecutor also recommended that the sentence be upheld dismissing the couple’s claim that the bank deposit was a trust fund for Kourakou’s two older children, which the minister claimed he didn’t know.

“Didn’t they know they had to declare it (bank account)? Any citizen would have asked lawyers one hundred times over if he had to declare it,” was the prosecutor’s closing argument.

Papantoniou and his wife were charged with money laundering by a prosecutor as the probe into their finances intensified at the time.

They were also banned from leaving the country as the investigation centered on an account belonging to Papantoniou, which was included in the so-called Borjans list of taxpayers with large deposits in Switzerland’s UBS, the newspaper Kathimerini said then.

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