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Apostolos Tsochatzopoulos, commonly known by the diminutive form Akis (Greek: Άκης Τσοχατζόπουλος; born 31 July 1939, Thessaloniki), is a Greek former politician who served as a minister in several Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) cabinets between 1981 and 2004.
Akis Tsochatzopoulos was a founding member of PASOK. He was elected to the Hellenic Parliament for the first time in 1981 and remained in seat until 2007. On 1 July 2011, amid accusations of corruption scandals, the Hellenic Parliament voted in favor of pressing charges against him. He was subsequently convicted on 7 October 2013.
Tsochatzopoulos has held the following ministerial posts in the duration of his career:
- Minister for Public Works (1981–1985)
- Minister for the Presidency of the Government (1985–1987)
- Minister for the Interior (1987–1989)
- Minister for Transport and Communication (1989–1990) (Coalition Government)
- Minister for the Interior (1993–1995)
- Minister for National Defence (1996–2001)
- Minister for Development (2001–2004)
In 2004, he came under strong criticism by members of the press and Greece's political scene in regards to his wedding in Paris and the reception that followed at the Four Seasons Hotel in order to have a view of the Eiffel Tower.
On 30 May 2010 the Greek newspapers I Kathimerini and Proto Thema publicized their discovery that Vicky Stamati, wife of Akis Tsochatzopoulos, had purchased a house for one million euro from an offshore company on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, in one of Athens' most prestigious neighborhoods, only a few days before parliament passed a series of austerity measures aimed at increasing taxes and combating tax evasion. At the time Akis Tsochatzopoulos had threatened that he would go to the courts, but nevertheless on June 7 the committee in charge of the case asked for the removal of Tsochatzopoulos' party privileges because of evidence found against him.
In early 2011, following an investigation by a specialized committee of the Hellenic Parliament, evidence emerged that Tsochatzopoulos was also involved in the Siemens scandal. Among others, the committee statement included: "Mr. Tsochatzopoulos is being checked in regards to his activities in the capacity of Minister for National Defence between 1996 and 2001. The Committee combines the orders for defence systems that occurred under his leadership with the confessions of the people managing the 'black' money given by Siemens as bribe for the MIM-104 Patriot systems".
On 31 March 2011 a parliamentary committee decided to inspect Tsochatzopoulos' assets, as well as those of New Democracy politician George Alogoskoufis and another former minister of the same party, on whose account deposits of up to 178 million euro were found. The aim of the investigation into Tsochatzopoulos' assets was to verify that his tax forms were truthful or if any other irregularities had occurred.
In April 2011 new evidence emerged that tied Tsochatzopoulos to yet another scandal in addition to the previous two, this time with the German company Ferrostaal in relation to the purchase of German submarines. According to the newspaper Real News, Tsochatzopoulos had received thanks from the German representatives for having been chosen for the purchase before a deal had been signed. Tsochatzopoulos threatened to go to courts over the newspaper's front page, which he considered to be "insulting" and defamatory. In mid April the parliamentary group of PASOK decided on the creation of committee to investigate the submarine scandal. Tsochatzopoulos accused the parliamentary group of acting in line with the opposition and of making wrong moves against him. A few days later he made a request to the Areios Pagos, Greece's supreme court, to move faster with the procedure of investigating his assets. On 11 April 2011 the George Papandreou government decided to expel him from the party.
A vote in parliament on 28 April on the creation of a committee to determine whether or not Tsochatzopoulos should be held accountable for criminal actions in the purchase of the German type 214 submarines was voted overwhelmingly in favor, with 226 of 300 votes in the house. Almost a month later, on 26 May, the findings on the committee for the investigation of Tsochatzopoulos' assets were published; they found that Tsochatzopoulos had lied about the value of his home, which was greater than his tax documents stated.
On 6 June 2011 the committee decision in relation to the purchase of the German submarines was handed over to the president of the Hellenic Parliament. The committee suggested that Tsochatzopoulos be criminally charged for the attempting to pass off money obtained through illegal means as legitimate. The same day he gave an interview to the Greek TV channel Skai where he denied all charges and said that the accusations are a plot against him.
On 1 July 2011 the committee's suggestion that charges be made against Tsochatzopoulos was passed in parliament with a majority of 216 of 300 seats. On 11 April 2012 he was arrested on charges of money laundering.
On Monday, 7 October 2013, he was found "guilty on all charges". The following day he was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 20 years incarceration.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Apostolos Tsochatzopoulos.|
- Α.Τσοχατζόπουλος: Με 216 ψήφους υπέρ αποφάσισε η Βουλή την άσκηση ποινικής δίωξης εναντίον του (in Greek). www.skai.gr. 1 July 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- "Greek former minister Tsochatzopoulos guilty of fraud". BBC News.
- Σοσιαλιστής της σαμπάνιας (in Greek). www.enet.gr. 6 June 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Εκτός ΠΑΣΟΚ ο Άκης Τσοχατζόπουλος (in Greek). www.enet.gr. 7 June 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- "Η ετυμηγορία της Εξεταστικής για το σκάνδαλο της Siemens" (in Greek). www.protothema.gr. 24 January 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Ψάχνουν τον "γαλάζιο" πρώην υπουργό με τα 178 εκατ. ευρώ (in Greek). www.tovima.gr. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- "Έκπληξη" Τσοχατζόπουλου για τον έλεγχο του πόθεν έσχες (in Greek). www.kathimerini.gr. 31 March 2011. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Πώς τα έκανες έτσι βρε Άκη (in Greek). www.real.gr. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Στη Δικαιοσύνη προσφεύγει ο Τσοχατζόπουλος για δημοσίευμα εφημερίδας (in Greek). www.kathimerini.gr. 3 April 2011. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Τσοχατζόπουλος: Ατόπημα η προανακριτική για τα υποβρύχια (in Greek). www.tovima.gr. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Την Τρίτη η απόφαση για την προανακριτική του Άκη (in Greek). www.real.gr. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Φορολογικές παραβάσεις στην περιουσιακή κατάσταση του κ. Τσοχατζόπουλου (in Greek). www.skai.gr. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Τα υποβρύχια που έγερναν, η ΝΔ και ο ρόλος Τσοχατζόπουλου (in Greek). www.tvxs.gr. 7 February 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Πρόταση Προανακριτικής για ποινική δίωξη κατά Τζοχατζόπουλου (in Greek). www.kathimerini.gr. 6 June 2011. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Άκης Τσοχατζόπουλος (in Greek). www.folders.skai.gr. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- "Ex defense minister arrested". Kathimerini. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
- "Ένοχοι για όλες τις κατηγορίες Τσοχατζόπουλος, Σταμάτη και άλλοι 15 κατηγορούμενοι (upd)". skai.gr.