The widening scandal in the Greek defense ministry is set to take another turn on Jan. 2 when a key suspect, Panayiotis Eftathiou, said to be a middleman between Greek officials and German arms manufacturers is set to testify in court.
Eftathiou, 83, was identified by the star witness Antonis Kantas, the ex-deputy head of procurements at the Defense Ministry between 1996 and 2002, who said Efthatiou played a key role in transferring millions of euros in kickbacks.
Another suspect, arms dealer Dimitris Papachristos, 78, is to face an investigating magistrate on Jan. 3 His lawyers have claimed he suffers from amnesia and he can’t remember everything.
Kantas served two former defense ministers, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who is serving a 20-year term for money laundering after a conviction on charges of stealing hundreds of millions of euros from defense contracts, and Yannis Papantoniou, who is being prosecuted for failing to declare the source of his wealth.
Kantas said he got some $16 million for his role in arranging the bribe scheme to pay off ministry officials. He has named some others, but no politically-related figures. Kantas returned seven million euros ($9.62 million) to the government and his lawyer said they are trying to arrange for the return of the rest, squirreled away in a Singapore bank account.
Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said the money would go toward “covering shortfalls in the health and education sectors.”