Security deal in jeopardy?

The financial troubles of information technology company Altec, now under investigation by the financial crimes squad (SDOE), have given rise to wild speculation about the fate of the contract for the provision of security communications and surveillance systems for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Altec was a minor partner in the consortium, led by US company Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), which was finally awarded the job on March 13 after months of haggling and intense political lobbying said to include, at one time, direct phone calls from US Vice President Dick Cheney. The US-led SAIC consortium prevailed over a rival group led by joint US-French venture Thales Raytheon Systems. According to an article published in today’s edition of the Greek Kathimerini, government officials are in contact with both groups to jointly undertake part of the project. An anonymous «government source» is quoted as not discounting the possibility of a repeat of the tender. Given that there are only 15-and-a-half months until the start of the Athens Olympics, when the security system should already be up and running, repeating the tender is simply not an option and sources close to Prime Minister Costas Simitis dismiss it outright. However, the contract has not been signed yet and the government is expected to come under tremendous pressure, if not blackmail, to change the rules of the game at the last moment. The losing consortium includes partners such as construction company Aktor, led by the son of publisher Giorgos Bobolas, who has close ties to the government, as well as OTE Telecom. Giorgos Kouris, the controversial publisher of the daily Avriani, who is leading a crusade against Altec boss Athanassios Athanassoulis, his former business partner, has already falsely accused former Deputy Public Order Minister Vangelis Malesios of helping SAIC win the 255-million-euro contract.