Saturday, 6 October 2012

Former Defense Official Charged in Kickback Scheme

A former Greek defense ministry official who was a close associate of jailed former defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos has been arrested and charged in a kickback scheme tied to his former boss’ alleged money-laundering scheme that netted a reported $103.5 million in payoffs.
Reports said that Yiannis Sbokos, 61, who was general secretary responsible for armaments at the ministry from 1997–2000, was arrested at his office in central Athens, where police also seized a computer and then searched his home in Kifissia, a rich suburb in northern Athens. He was due to appear before a magistrate on Oct. 4.
Prosecutors said the file prepared against Sbokos shows he belongs to the group that handled and concealed huge amounts of money paid in kickbacks from the procurement of Russian-made Tor-M1 anti-aircraft missiles and the German-made 214-type submarines from the shipbuilder Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW).
Sbokos was a candidate for Parliament for the PASOK Socialists for the Cretan prefecture of Rethymno from 1991 to 1993. He was elected again in 2000, but that victory was overturned on petition from another candidate.

According to testimony by Nikos Zigras, a cousin of Tsochatzopoulos’s and codefendant in the corruption case, Sbokos was allegedly a key figure in an intricate scheme developed to manage the former minister’s illegal properties.
Sbokos allegedly received the kickbacks from the arms deals and subsequently invested the money in a listed company onwed by his father-in-law. Besides Zigras’s testimony, further evidence of Sbokos’s alleged involvement in the case was detected in various notes seized at Tsochatzopoulos’s office, in which the latter demanded money from his aide, officials said

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