A civil engineer who testified prior to the arrest of former minister Yiannos Papantoniou and his wife Stavroula Kourakou on money laundering charges, told prosecutors that he had helped the couple transfer €2.5 million in cash abroad.
Papantoniou and his wife testified before the corruption prosecutor on Tuesday and were placed in custody in the early hours of Wednesday, ostensibly over concerns they would flee the country.
The former minister has denied charges that he laundered €2.8 million in kickbacks over a 2003 contract to upgrade six navy frigates when he was defense minister.
The witness, whose testimony was revealed to the press on Wednesday, said he was a friend who initially believed the deposits he was requested to make, consisted of “legal revenues by Papantoniou.”
The man further claimed that “within two years, in 2002 and 2003, I received in installments from Papantoniou totalling of 2.5 million in cash.” He said he would pick up the money “from Papantoniou’s home in Kifissia in packs of cash in manila envelopes,” and would deposit the money at a bank in the northern suburbs of Athens.
From there, he alleged, “the money left for Switzerland,” to an account bearing Papantoniou’s and his wife’s names.
The civil engineer claimed he had not been compensated for his assistance, because he was carrying out a favor to a person he respected. He said he wanted to help “his friend, a successful politician and an honest and fair human being.”
Prosecutors released the witness on €500,000 bail and forbade him from leaving the country.