Siemens executives given two months to appear before Greek magistrates over bribe scandal

Greek magistrates have requested that 13 former high-ranking executives at German electronics and engineering giant Siemens come to Greece to be questioned as part of the long-running investigation into the cash-for-contracts scandal.

The 13 executives worked with the company, whose Greek branch is accused of bribing public officials and politicians in Greece to secure lucrative state contracts, between 1998 and 2004. Among those being called to give evidence are a former CEO, two ex-members of the company’s central committee and top managers from the firm’s telecommunications operations.

The magistrates, Maria Nikolakea, Yiannis Fiorakis and Nikos Pipiligas, have given the German executives two months to appear for questioning in Athens. There is some doubt as to whether the suspects will cooperate and the judges are considering issuing European arrest warrants if needed.

However, even so, it is doubtful whether German authorities would extradite the executives. In 2009, a German court ruled that the key suspect in the case, former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos, could not be forced to face a Greek court. Christoforakos holds German and Greek passports and Germany rarely extradites its citizens to face trial abroad.

On the domestic front, the judicial investigation into the allegations that Siemens bribed executives at OTE telecom to win a contract, worth almost half a billion euros, to digitize Greece’s phone network has almost been completed. The probe into Siemens’s role with regard to the C4I security system for the 2004 Athens Olympics is on hold as magistrates are waiting for a report from experts regarding what damage the Greek state suffered as part of the deal.