He was a kind of “national supplier” for defense systems, when Greece was ‘rich’ and was acquiring tanks, missiles, helicopters and other essential armament equipemnt as if there was no tomorrow. Businessman and retired army officer Thomas Liakoynakos,67, was arrested on Monday night in his home in a noble suburb of North Athens.
Liakounakos faces felony charges on money laundering and bribes in the case of supplying the Greek Armed Forces with the radar system ERIEYE of Swedish multi-national Ericsson.
He allegedly managed 1.6 million euro – some other media sources speak of 2 million euro – in bribes and kickbacks and thus around the year 2000.
Tuesday morning, he appeared before the prosecutor, he is to give testimony on Friday, until then he will remain in custody. Liakounakos has allegedly given bribes to ex defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos and his close aide and procurement director Yiannis Sbokos, who are both in prison. According to Proto Thema, the bribes were given through company Interation and thus for the purchase of the ERIEYE radar system back in the year 2000. Liakounakos denies ownership of the offshore.
To Vima notes that the arrest warrant was issued when the investigative judge received evidence suggesting Liakounakos’ “involvement with the Interaction offshore company, which is related to the procurement of the Erieye radar system from Ericsson. Liakounakos has denied ownership of the offshore. Funds from the offshore ended up with former National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his procurement director Yannis Sbokos.”
In another article To Vima stresses that “turning point for the investigation was the testimony given by former manager of Ericsson to Greek judicial representatives at the Greek Consulate in Stockholm in April 2014.”
Furthermore, whistleblower Liss Olof Nenzell handed out documents and spoke of “mythical amounts of money that were paid to important persons in Greece in order to ensure the procurement for the specific company.
It was the Swedish Radio that had claimed that Liakounakos was functioning as a middleman between Ericsson and the Greek government through his company SONAK. Ericsson has never officially accepted that it was in contact with Liakounakos apparentely “because he was under investigation for paying bribes for the pruchase of the German tanks,” the Sverige Radio notes.
Later on Tuesday, Thomas Liakounakos denied all charges and declared through his lawyer that he has never paid any bribes to anyone.
Thomas Liakounakos is ” a self-made millionaire who founded, owns and heads a group of companies ranging from publications to medical centers to software development and construction companies. He started young selling supplies to ships in Piraeus with activities allegedly continuing even while he served as a seaman with the Greek Navy.”
According to Greek media, the businessman managed to enter the area of armament supplies due to the close contacts he maintained with distinguished right-wing politician and New Democracy kingmaker Evangelos Averof. He is godfather of another ND leader Miltiadis Evert. However, Laikounakos experienced the “golden years of supplies” under PASOK regime of Costas Simitis and Defense Ministers Akis Tsochatzopoulos and Yiannos Papantoniou. The defense contracts were allegedly worth almost 6 billion euros.
He delivered everything that the Greek Armed Forces needed from Apache helicopters to Leopard tanks and missiles. Occasionally he would be paid but deliver nothing like “the listening devices that his company SONAK never delivered.”
According to news portal TheToc.gr, “The case concerns the supply for the military of jammers of GPS signals and 11 listening posts from the SONAK firm, which allegedly were never delivered, although a deposit of € 35 million had been paid by the government.” He was taken in custody for this case but after testimony he was released on a 300,000-euro bail and ban to leave the country.
His first arms brokerage deal came with the purchase of the first Leopard tanks by the Hellenic Army.
His mother company, Axon Holdings became an umbrella for varied business ventures branching out into Axon Construction, Axon Stockbrokers, Kerdos newspaper, Axon Airlines, and SONAK which designed and developed defense electronic. He also owns Euromedica clinics, health units and diagnostic centers. He employs some 3,500 people.
According to To Vima, Liakounakos is also under investigation “for the purchase of Leopard II main battle tanks. He will also be indicted for electronic warfare systems, while the prosecutor is examining the main commission for the German tanks.”
PS Greek media report that “Greek authorities are in permanent contact with the Swedish authorities that show a strong interest in possible involvement of other Ericsson officials in the bribes.”
I assume, there is no parallel investigation in Sweden, presumably because bribing state officials is legal…?
Interesting: when it comes to bribes given by German companies, first the German authorities investigate and then the Greeks react. when it comes ot Sweden, apparently things work the other way around.