German company Rheinmetall has admitted to paying a 127-million-euro bribe to Greek officials to secure the sale of 353 Leopard 2 battle tanks in a deal that was completed in 2009, according legal documents seen by Kathimerini and German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.
The two papers have seen the content of an out-of-court settlement between the Dusseldorf-based arms manufacturer and the Bremen prosecutor’s office that states the bribe was paid to military officials to pave the way for the deal. A close associate of Giorgos Zorbas, the general secretary for procurements at the Defense Ministry at the time, is alleged to have played a key role in the funneling of the cash.
A retired military officer is also alleged to have been involved in the process. He has been linked to middleman Panos Efstathiou’s company, Tredeco. Eftstathiou is a former representative in Greece of German firm Atlas Elektronik who was released on bail last year after being charged with bribery.
The two men who worked with Zorbas and Efstathiou appear to have received 826,000 euros for their part in the helping the corrupt agreement be implemented. Documents also suggest that 13 million euros was paid to a company in Panama but it is not known where the funds went after that.
Two former Rheinmetall officials are due to appear before a Greek prosecutor this week to answer questions about alleged bribes paid in connection to the sale of the ASRAD anti-aircraft system to Greece.