Tsochatzopoulos: The Sausage Maker's Son Who Became a Millionaire

Frankfurt 1968: Fate brings together two prominent socialists, Akis Tsochatzopoulos and the late Andreas Papandreou. Almost three decades later, or specifically on June 23, 1996. Akis said his last goodbye to Papandreou, a man he considered as his friend and mentor. The years that followed were carefree with lots of Joie de Vivre and jet set living and there was only one thing he could not digest and this involved losing PASOK's presidency to his rival Costas Simitis in 1996.

His father, Evangelos, was originally from Costantinopole who arrived in Thessaloniki in 1926 as a refugee. It was here that he met Akis' mother Areti Georgakis, from Ioannina. They married in 1939, and had Akis the same year. Shortly afterwards the family acquired two more children, Stephen and Costas.

The family moved to Komninon 24, near Thessaloniki's Modiano market, known at the time as the neighborhood with the florists. Just a little further away, and specifically on Ermou Street the family also set up a sausage shop (or delicatessens) called "Allantika Tsochatzopoulos Piotis Alpha".

Akis himself would sell sandwiches at Thessaloniki's train station and then later on go for training at PAOK's junior basketball team.

At the age of eighteen Tsochatzopoulos came to Athens with the hopes of joining the Greek Air Force but the doctors had a different opinion and after diagnosing him with a systolic murmur infarction his hopes of joining the Academy were gone. So he packed up and immigrated to Germany in 1959 where he settled in Munich and apparently attended University. While studying at the Polytechnic he worked as a waiter and washed dishes, and he also found odd jobs as a driver, at a tire plant, etc. In 1964 he supposedly received his diploma in civil engineering and started his
professional career. In the same  year he married his first wife Gudrun Molntenchaouer. Five years later they had a daughter which they named Areti and in 1969 his wife gave birth to their son Alex.

In 1972 he opened his first
office in Munich called "Plan & Bau GmbH", but when the Junta fell in a little while after that he abandoned everything loaded up a troubled "Citroen" and road back to Greece!

Once in Greece, he apparently worked in construction designing buildings and posh homes with pristine pools and lush garden roofs and then he joined Andreas Papandreou and the Panhellenic Socialist party (PASOK).

When PASOK won the national elections in 1981, Tsochatzopoulos served as Minister of Public Works. At the following elections in 1985, Papandreou appointed him to the position of Minister for the Presidency of the
Government (1985–1987) and then to the post of Minister for the Interior (1987–1989). When the Papandreou government fell in 1989 from a river of scandals, Tsochatzopoulos served a short term as Minister for Transport and Communication (1989–1990) under the Coalition Government. When the late Andreas Papandreou again won the elections in 1993 Tsochatzopoulos was named as Minister for the Interior (1993–1995) and then when Andreas died and Costas Simitis took over he served as Minister for National Defence (1996–2001) and then as 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 to the Eiffel Tower.

On 30 May 2010 Greek newspapers such as "Kathimerini" as well as "Proto Thema" published reports claiming that Tsochatzopoulos' wife had purchased a house for one million euros from an offshore company on one of Athens' most prestigious streets, just 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".

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 seat.

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