An appeals justices’ council on Friday indicted 13 individuals to stand trial for serious offences relating to a defence contract for the purchase of 170 Leopard 2 tanks, signed in 2003 when Yiannos Papantoniou was at the helm of the defence ministry.
The 13 going before a criminal appeals court will include the businessman Thomas Liakounakos, who was an agent for the German defence firm Krauss Maffei Wegman (KMW), and a number of former defence ministry officials, including its former general secretary for financial planning and defence investments, Spyros Travlos.
The charges against them include breach of trust, aggravated by laws relating to instances of public-sector embezzlement, morally instigating the above acts and legalising income from illegal activity.
The case concerns an offset benefits contract signed on the same day as the main contract for the supply of the tanks, in March 2003. The purchase price agreed was 1.7 billion euros, one of the largest sums ever agreed for arms contracts by the Greek state. An additional 300 million euros was added to this amount for the supply of 180 second-hand tanks, with no provision for an offset-benefits agreement for their refurbishment and modernisation.
Based on reports and questions tabled in Parliament, the above main contract was also seen as “scandalous” because it made no provision for the supply of shells for the specific tanks.
Under the attached offset benefits contract, KMW undertook to either provide offset benefits worth 250 pct of the contractual price of the main contract or to invite other acceptable parties to do so. According to the charges, this secondary contract was not implemented according to the terms laid out, or only partially implemented, resulting in significant financial losses for the Greek state.
Both for the main Leopard tanks contract and for the secondary offset benefits contract is included in the evidence sent to a Parliametary Preliminary Investigation Committee examining whether the former minister Papantoniou should also stand trial.