By Emil Danielyan
The owner of a Greek company that has been a key equipment supplier of the OTE telephone company and its ArmenTel subsidiary was charged on Tuesday with fraud, money laundering and espionage, reports from Athens said.
The Associated Press reported that the case against Socrates Kokkalis, one of Greece's richest men, was brought by a Greek public prosecutor. The fraud charge relates to activities of the tycoon’s Intracom company.
OTE’s and ArmenTel’s dealings with Intracom figure prominently in the fraud allegations made against the national telecom operator by the Armenian government. A government report leaked to RFE/RL at the weekend accuses OTE of giving Intracom and other Greek firms privileged treatment in the selection of contractors for ArmenTel. The report claims that the state-controlled Greek giant deliberately inflated the already high cost of Intracom equipment imported to Armenia.
Intracom has won at least $38 million worth of contracts in Armenia over the past four years, ArmenTel records show.
The fraud charge against its owner and founder reportedly stems from his alleged involvement with Russia, where Intracom has supplied lotto machines, software and technology. Kokkalis, 63, is also being accused of allegedly spying against Greece for the Stasi, the East German secret service that was disbanded in 1990. Intracom said they have no comment on the charges, according to the AP.
Kokkalis was educated in Moscow and East Berlin before returning to Greece to set up Intracom, which supplied OTE with equipment.