First Siemens charges filed

The prosecutor investigating the Siemens bribery scandal yesterday wrapped up his preliminary probe by filing bribery and money-laundering charges against persons unknown, while concluding that there was not enough evidence to show that political parties or politicians had received illegal payments from the German firm. After some four months of investigating the affair, prosecutor Panayiotis Athanassiou decided that four criminal charges relating to offering and accepting bribes as well as money laundering should be filed without identifying specific suspects. This means that the case must now be assigned to an investigating judge, who will have to probe further to identify suspects who should stand trial. A judge is likely to be assigned to the Siemens case in September, almost two years after a Greek prosecutor first ordered an investigation following revelations in Germany that Siemens had allegedly paid bribes to secure contracts in a number of countries, including Greece. Athanassiou deemed that there was either not enough evidence pointing to politicians accepting bribes or that any offense would be prescribed because of the statute of limitations. This, despite the fact that former PASOK cadre Theodoros Tsoukatos admitted to accepting more than 400,000 euros in cash from former Siemens Hellas boss Michalis Christoforakos. Tsoukatos insists the money went to the party’s 2000 election campaign fund but the Socialists deny this. Meanwhile, sources close to Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said yesterday that he is prepared to sue anyone who links him to the Siemens scandal after allegations that a minister traveled as a guest of Christoforakos to Germany in 2005 to watch Greece play a friendly soccer match against Brazil.