Former Greek Defence Minister, wife imprisoned

Oct 24, 2018, 22:46 IST | IANS

Papantoniou who also held the post of Minister for National Economy and Finances from 1996-2001 was considered the architect of Greece's accession to the Eurozone

Former Greek Defence Minister, wife imprisoned
Representational Image

Former Greek Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and his wife were remanded in preventive prison on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in a money laundering scheme linked to arms sales during the Socialist government rule from 1996-2010.

Papantoniou who also held the post of Minister for National Economy and Finances from 1996-2001 was considered the architect of Greece's accession to the Eurozone.

He spent the night at the Greek police headquarters after a marathon 18-hour judicial grilling and was expected to be transferred to prison later Wednesday along with his wife Stavroula Kourakou.

Both face money laundering charges to the tune of 2.46 million euros ($2.81 million) from kickbacks dating back to his term as Defence Minister from 2001-04.

After leaving the court in handcuffs, just before midnight, Papantoniou denied the accusations and said such use of the justice system put Greek democracy at risk.

The couple were accused of profiting from a 2003 naval defence contract to upgrade six Greek Navy Type S frigates, signed between Greek Shipyards and a subcontracting French company, Thales Nederland BV.

According to the court indictment, Papantoniou received the money as a gift to assign the contract to the Thales Group and the kickbacks cost the Greek state some 400 million euros.

Papantoniou's wife Kourakou was indicted as joint holder of seven Swiss bank accounts where the grafted funds were alleged located.

Papantoniou signed arms contracts worth 6.22 billion euros during his stint at the Defence Ministry, the report said.

In 2012, the Greek judiciary began investigating the former Defence Minister for his alleged involvement in six cases of high-level corruption during his mandate.

Apart from the six frigates upgrading, the scandal also allegedly involved the purchase of 170 Leopard II tanks valued at 1.77 billion euros and 12 Apache helicopter contract worth 663 million euros.

In 2015 and 2017, the couple was also ordered to serve two four-year sentences for failing to declare part of their wealth in 2009-2010.

Both sentences were commuted by a 14,600 euro fine each, (roughly 10 euros per sentence day) plus two additional 10,000 euro fines.

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