NEWS

Deputies release Siemens findings

Eleven months after a parliamentary committee began investigating the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal, the MPs on the panel delivered their reports on Thursday, surprisingly recommending that 13 former or serving ministers should face further investigation but failing to provide any significant insight into how officials accepted bribes from the Greek branch of the German electronics and engineering giant.

The deputies representing the ruling PASOK party provided the most comprehensive report, recommending that 13 ministers, some of them from Socialist governments, should be investigated further by Parliament.

Their report suggested that Tasos Mantelis, Christos Verelis, Yiannos Papantoniou and Nikos Christodoulakis of PASOK and Michalis Liapis and Giorgos Alogoskoufis should be probed in connection to the purchase by state-run OTE telecoms of equipment from Siemens at allegedly inflated prices. It also proposes that Papantoniou and former conservative ministers Giorgos Voulgarakis, Vyron Polydoras, Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Christos Markoyiannakis should be investigated for their part in the purchase of the C4I security system for the Athens Olympics. It further recommends that Akis Tsochatzopoulos should be probed over arms procurements and Liapis in connection to the purchase of hand-held electronic guides by the Culture Ministry.

New Democracy, however, identifies the Siemens scandal as an affair that relates to PASOK only. In their report, the ND lawmakers recommend that former Socialist ministers Papantoniou, Christodoulakis, Mantelis, Tsochatzopoulos, Verelis, Evangelos Malesios, current Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and former Prime Minister Costas Simitis should face further investigation.

Although Parliament will now have a chance to vote on whether to probe the matter further, the possibility of any of the politicians identified by the committee facing action is remote as in 11 of the 13 cases, the statute of limitations applies to any offenses they may have committed. Only Pavlopoulos and Markoyiannakis, who served in the previous ND government could be prosecuted.