Answers sought in Siemens scandal

PASOK will call for the setting up of a parliamentary investigative committee to look into allegations that Germany’s Siemens has paid over 100 million euros to Greek officials to win state contracts. The move is seen as a surprise step by the Socialists, who were in government when most of the kickbacks are alleged to have been paid. Sources said PASOK leader George Papandreou will call for the committee in a bid to convey the message that the political parties are not attempting to jointly cover up any financial scandals. Additionally, the move is also seen as part of a broader set of initiatives being taken by the Socialists to boost transparency in public finances. The ruling conservatives are not expected to agree to the PASOK request, which is being supported by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). Kickbacks are believed to have been paid to Greek political parties, particularly before the 2004 national elections, as well as to OTE telecom staff and officials involved in the construction of Olympic Games venues worth billions of euros. The scandal has already cost the 160-year-old German company 1.6 billion euros and led to the resignation of two senior executives. LAOS leader Giorgos Karatzaferis asked Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis to send a Greek magistrate to Germany to gather evidence regarding Greece’s role in the scandal that extends to a number of countries around the world.