Bribe probe unsettling for PASOK

The deepening investigation into alleged bribes paid in the past to members of the Greek government by Germany’s Siemens led to a number of former PASOK officials claiming their innocence yesterday. Siemens was involved in the C4I surveillance system bought by Greece for more than 250 million euros ahead of the Athens Olym-pics in 2004. It has been suggested that this is one of the deals that prosecutors will be investigating in connection to the graft claims. The reaction in PASOK was sparked yesterday following a statement released by former Public Order Minister Evangelos Malesios who said he was not willing to be the party’s «sacrificial lamb» again. Malesios resigned in 2003 after it was revealed that he was staying rent-free in an apartment that was owned by the head of the Altec high-technology firm, which was also involved in the C4I deal. However, Malesios insisted yesterday that he had nothing to do with the approval of the C4I security package as it was the responsibility of then Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis. Papantoniou reacted by saying that the Defense Ministry did not have any active role in the decision-making process, while people close to Chrysochoidis said the former minister had nothing new to add on the matter. German electronics and engineering giant Siemens allegedly paid 100 million euros over a 17-year period in Greece to bribe local officials to secure state contracts. Meanwhile, Deputy Environment and Public Works Minister Themistoklis Xanthopoulos backtracked yesterday on comments earlier this week that the government should not merge all pension funds as two New Democracy deputies suggested he should resign. In a statement issued yesterday, Xanthopoulos said he had expressed his own personal view and not that of the ministry. «It is self-evident that as a member of this government, I am bound by the government’s choices and naturally this will occur with decisions regarding social security reforms,» Xanthopoulos said.