Greece: Former Defense Minister Convicted of Money Laundering

A Greek court found former defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos guilty of corruption on Monday. Tsochatzopoulos, 74, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for accepting US$75 million in bribes, according to the Financial Times.

The court found that Tsochatzopoulos, who is already serving an eight-year term for fraud, accepted bribes relating to the purchase of Russian missiles and German submarines. During his 1996 to 2001 tenure as Minister for National Defense, Tsochatzopoulos managed Greece's largest-ever defense procurement.

Throughout the five-month trial he denied charges of accepting money laundered with the help of codefendants through a complex network of offshore companies and property purchases.

The Independent reports that 16 codefendants were also convicted, including Tsochatzopoulos's wife and daughter who were each sentenced to 12 years in prison.  His ex-wife was also sentenced to six years.

Two other codefendants, former ministers who resigned over the scandal, were cleared.

Tsochatzopoulos, who was seen as a contender for the position of Prime Minister during the 1990s, is the latest among several high-ranking Greek politicians to be convicted. Corruption in high levels of government has drawn significant ire in recent years from Greek citizens who blame politicians for harsh austerity measures and the country’s economic crisis, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.