The most damning evidence yet against former Greek defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, charged with operating a money-laundering scheme and stealing untold scores of millions of euros from contracts, was given at his trial by his cousin Nikos Zigras, who said there were times when he would hand over 100,000 to 150,000 euros in cash per week to the ex-PASOK veteran during the years he handled the alleged bribes the politician received in order to seal arms deals.
Zigras delivered a witness statement in the appeals court, in which he accused Tsochatzopoulos of accepting bribes for the purchase of a Russian missile system and German-made submarines. Zigras added that this money was laundered through offshore companies such as Torcaso, Bluebell and Nobilis that were created specifically for this purpose. The ex-minister denies the claims.
Zigras claimed that former Cypriot Interior Minister Dinos Michailidis acted as a middleman in the arms sales. Michailidis and his son are due to be extradited from Cyprus to be questioned in Athens.
Zigras also claimed that the only reason Tsochatzopoulos paid for his cancer treatment at a German hospital was “so I would not die before I had time to tell him all the bank accounts I had opened for him.”
“I apologize to you and the Greek people,” Zigras said as he concluded his statement. Tsochatzopoulos was due to take the stand earlier this week but refused in protest that he was not allowed more time to prepare.