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Greek ex-minister jailed for money laundering

Former defence minister given 20 years in jail for money laundering, the highest-profile conviction in decades.

Last Modified: 07 Oct 2013 19:17
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The case which convicted Tsochatzopoulos has become a symbol of political corruption in Greece [AFP]

Jailed former Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos has been found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to an additional 20 years in prison.

Monday's sentencing is added to the eight years of jail time Tsochatzopoulos was given in March for failing to disclose the source of his wealth and for submitting false income statements from 2006 to 2009.

In the highest-profile conviction of a politician in decades, the case also sentenced his wife, ex-wife, daughter and 13 others for complicity.

Tsochatzopoulos, a founding member of the socialist Pasok party and a leading figure on the Greek political stage, was defence minister from 1996 to 2001 during which time he put kickbacks from his arms deals into foreign bank accounts, court officials said.

Prosecutor Georgia Adilini accused Tsochatzopoulos, 73, of laundering over 6 million euros from bribes over the purchase of armoured vehicles, four submarines and Russian anti-aircraft missiles when he was defence minister.

"There were so many bribes he could not even calculate the total amount," she said, citing sums of money transferred in "bags, suitcases, cheques, bank accounts, businesses".

Popular anger

The case has come to symbolise the graft within a crisis-wracked Greece.

Souring unemployment and austerity measures have deepened popular anger against the generation of politicians who led Greece into a debt crisis in 2009.

The case comes amid job cuts, strikes, protests and the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fissas which sparked heated dispute within the country.

The government is trying to subdue the anger by cracking down harder on high-level tax evasion and fraud.

The former minister has become a symbol of political corruption in Greece, which has been mired in deep economic crisis since 2010.

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Source:
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