PM instructs ministers to pursue Siemens

In an apparent move to win over the public following the disappointing conclusion of a parliamentary committee?s investigation into the Siemens scandal, Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday told three of his ministers to look into various aspects of the affair.

During a cabinet meeting, the premier instructed Regional Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis and Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou to pick up several strands relating to claims that Siemens Hellas bribed public officials to secure contracts.

Chrysochoidis is to ask the Competition Commission whether any market regulations were broken, while Kastanidis is to begin proceedings to impose fines on Siemens for breaking transparency laws and Papaconstantinou is to investigate whether Greece can sue for damages.

On Monday, State Minister Haris Paboukis wrote to the German industrial giant to inform the company that it would use ?all appropriate means? to recover damages.

Sources said there is uneasiness within PASOK over the time it has taken the government to take action against Siemens. Papandreou had wanted the 11-month parliamentary probe to be completed first. However, the Socialists are now competing with New Democracy to convince voters they are serious about fighting corruption. ND leader Antonis Samaras stole a march on Papandreou on Monday by proposing a probe into ministers? source of wealth declarations dating back to 1974. Papandreou?s instructions to his ministers yesterday are seen as an attempt to wrestle back the initiative from Samaras.