More Siemens developments due

The management of German technology giant Siemens has ordered the release of all information regarding any bribes the company has allegedly paid to Greek political parties or politicians, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini, as a multimillion-euro deal the firm signed with the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) comes under scrutiny. The latest developments have been sparked by the revelation last week by Theodoros Tsoukatos, an aide of former Prime Minister Costas Simitis, that in 1999 he met with the then managing director of Siemens Hellas, Michalis Christoforakos, and accepted a payment of 420,000 euros for PASOK’s election campaign. The development would seem to support claims that Siemens paid millions of euros in backhanders to Greek officials via its Greek subsidiary to secure state contracts. Siemens stands accused of following this practice in other countries as well. The first trial of a former Siemens director implicated in the scandal started last month in Munich. After an internal probe, the industrial group acknowledged that 1.3 billion euros was channeled into various funds. Kathimerini understands that the company now wants to disclose all available information to help clear up the case. Tsoukatos is due to submit a written statement this week to prosecutor Panyiotis Athanassiou, explaining what happened nine years ago. Meanwhile, Athanassiou is also turning his attention to a deal signed by OSE and Siemens in 1997, according to sources. He is expected to scrutinize a change in the contract terms in 2001, which removed the financial penalties for Siemens in the event it delayed the supply of rolling stock. Another change also led to the removal of a clause requiring the trains to be built in Greece. It is alleged that these changes were made at the same time that 2 million euros were being moved through Siemens’s offshore funds and allegedly used for bribe payments.