ATHENS – A Greek investigative-magistrate has asked officials in five European countries to reveal details of bank accounts belong to former defense minister Yiannis Papantoniou, who is being detained on charges of laundering 2.8 million euros ($3.18 million) in Swiss francs in alleged bribes for a 2003 contract to upgrade six Navy frigate.
Banks in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Cyprus and Switzerland, where the former minister is alleged to have account were sent requests to give Greek investigators information on his holdings, said Kathimerini, citing source it didn’t reveal.
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, the paper said.
Greek investigators also want to a French national who worked in a company involved in the frigate deal, who has been convicted for a series of crimes in France in which alleged briberies were paid in Greece as part of the deal.
The probe also is said to be focusing on Papantoniou’s acquisition and sale of a summer house on the island of Syros which he and his wife Stavroula Kourakou – who is also being detained – claim was a legal transaction although the seller was the same person who deposited the money into Swiss bank accounts for Papantoniou.
It will be up to the Greek Parliament though to decide whether the statute of limitations applies to the bribery allegations leveled against Papantoniou, although he can still be charged with money laundering.
The pair are being held in Attica’s high-security Korydallos Prison, after judicial authorities said they were a risk to fun because they rent a second home in Switzerland and have bank accounts there and that it was likely they would keep committing crimes if allowed to go free until trial.
Papantoniou denied charges of money laundering during a lengthy deposition before a corruption prosecutor during which the state charged he had cost 400 million euros ($458.37 million) in damages.
Papantoniou reportedly claimed had the procurement contract not been signed, he would have been accountable for serious offenses and would have harmed the interests of the state but denied everything.
Papantoniou and his wife had been convicted for trying to hide 1.3 million euros ($1.39 billion) in a Swiss bank account from Greek authorities but were allowed to buy out their jail sentences.
Papantoniou, 67, served under Socialist PASOK as Defense Minister from 2001-04 and Economy Minister from 1996 to 2001. The deals he signed during that time have been under the scrutiny of corruption prosecutors for years.