Greece could be willing to reach an out-of-court settlement with Siemens over allegations that the firm paid millions of euros in bribes to political parties and public officials to secure state contracts, sources have told Kathimerini.
Suspicion that the government might look to avoid taking the electronics and engineering firm to court to seek damages had existed for the past few days, but this was compounded by a seemingly out-of-the-blue comment from State Minister Haris Paboukis in Parliament on Monday.
Without having being questioned on the issue, Paboukis reminded MPs that Siemens had reached out-of-court settlements in several other countries where it was alleged to have made under-the-table payments.
Paboukis wrote to Siemens Hellas last week, after a parliamentary committee completed its 11-month investigation into bribery claims. He warned the company that the government was prepared to use «all appropriate means» to recover damages. In his response, Siemens Hellas CEO Panos Xynis said the firm was now a «radically different» and «clean» company and indicated that it would be interested in bidding for public tenders in the future.
Sources told Kathimerini that the government has opened talks with Siemens about agreeing on an amount for damages. The concern for the government is that it should not be seen to be making too much of a compromise over the amount Siemens pays out.
Reaching an agreement that both sides will be happy with has been made more difficult by the parliamentary committee that probed the affair suggesting that Greece suffered 2 billion euros in damages. Those who have studied the case closely consider this a widely inflated figure. Siemens has been accused of paying bribes in a number of countries but it is estimated that the total amount around the world did not exceed 1.3 billion euros.
In Nigeria, where Siemens was also accused of paying bribes, the company reached an out-of-court settlement with the local government that was worth 34 million euros.