Vodafone CEO faces MPs’ ire over testimony

Vodafone Greece CEO Giorgos Koronias yesterday came under fire mostly from pro-government MPs during the second day of his testimony before Parliament’s Institutions and Transparency Committee. On his first day before the committee, Koronias had denied knowledge of the existence of software allowing the lawful interception of mobile phone calls in his company’s network since November 2002 and said he had only learned of it – and its misuse for the purpose on eavesdropping on the phones of 103 people including high officials – only in March 2005. Yesterday, MPs pressured Koronias over what they saw as inconsistencies in his testimony. He was asked about the names on the list of the 103 Vodafone subscribers who were victims of eavesdropping and which Vodafone gave to the government. Among them was the name of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, even though the mobile phone in question belonged to the PM’s late father, who died in January 2005. Koronias fudged this and other questions and relied sometimes on notes passed to him by his legal counsel. New Democracy MP Christos Zois disputed Koronias’s version as to how he was informed of the existence of the software and, in turn, informed the government. He drew out of Koronias the fact that when the appointment to see Karamanlis was fixed, Koronias was attending a soccer match. «I am trying to put myself in your position: There is a major national security issue for which you have urgently contacted the government. On the same morning, one of your managers has committed suicide and you, on that night, went to the match? It’s your right, of course, but I would not find the peace of mind to do it if I had such an explosive situation on my hands,» Zois said. «All my actions were in the right direction and I also have a family life,» Koronias replied. Koronias had to retract his remark that «the final list of those under surveillance was a product of government elaboration and assessment.» New Democracy MP Miltiades Evert requested that managers from Swedish company Ericsson be called for cross-examination with top Vodafone managers.