Germany targets Greek ex-minister for corruption: report

16th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

German prosecutors are targeting a Greek former defence minister in a corruption probe concerning a submarine deal, the weekly Der Spiegel reported in its edition to be published Monday.

The weekly said Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who is also the object of an inquiry in Greece, had been named in charges against two former directors of the Ferrostaal company as a recipient of bribes.

Tsohatzopoulos told Der Spiegel, "I have never asked for or received money or other advantages in connection with the sale of submarines to Greece."

The prosecutions office in Munich, which is conducting the probe, was not available for comment Saturday.

According to Der Spiegel, the charge sheet alleges that other Greek officials were also implicated in the 2000 deal involving four submarines built by Ferrostaal.

The weekly said Ferrostaal was suspected of paying hundreds of millions of euros in kickbacks to win contracts with foreign governments, including for a gas pumping station in Turkmenistan.

Current Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos last month accused German companies of encouraging corruption in his country over a long period, naming the Siemens group, Ferrostaal and its former parent company MAN.

He cited "elements" provided by a German legal investigation into Ferrostaal, and a report by the Greek financial authorities which, according to press reports, calculated that $140 million in bribes had been paid.

A preliminary inquiry was launched by the Greek legal authorities but in view of the supposed involvement of former ministers, one of them identified by newspapers as Tsohatzopoulos, the case had to be sent to parliament.

© 2011 AFP

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