Judge on trail of Siemens’s dirty cash

An investigation into whether the Greek branch of German electronics and engineering giant Siemens paid millions of euros in bribes to public officials and politicians to secure lucrative state contracts has revealed enough evidence of a clear money trail between Germany and Greece, sources said yesterday. Investigating magistrate Nikos Zagorianos is still probing various strands of the case and on Tuesday asked prosecutors to issue charges against «anyone responsible» for defrauding the Greek state during the purchase of the multimillion-euro C4I security system that was installed for the Athens Olympics in 2004. The Greek branch of the German electronics giant was the subcontractor on the C4I project. Sources said that evidence gathered by Zagorianos so far clearly points to cash being transferred from Germany to Greece. In testimony obtained from German prosecutors, a former Siemens official claims that a colleague asked him to provide 40 million euros so that he could pay off people in Greece ahead of the 2004 Olympics. Sources told Kathimerini that Zagorianos has also found 139 suspect money transfers that took place between 1998 and 2003 and which have been linked to a contract awarded by OTE telecoms to Siemens, which netted 632 million euros. OTE is alleged to have overpaid by almost 60 million euros for the goods from Siemens. The former managing director of Siemens Hellas, Michalis Christoforakos, is one of more than 30 suspects to have had his bank accounts frozen by Zagorianos as part of the investigation. The company’s former financial director, Christos Karavelas, was yesterday given almost a month’s extension to prepare his testimony.

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