NEWS

Siemens suspects face detention

Some of the seven suspects in the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal, due to appear before investigating magistrate Nikos Zagorianos on Wednesday, might not walk out free men afterward as the judge is likely to remand at least some of them in custody, sources have told Kathimerini. After months of gathering evidence, Zagorianos looks set to signal the start of the final phase in the probe into whether the Greek subsidiary of the German electronics and engineering giant paid bribes to politicians and state officials in Greece to secure lucrative state contracts. It has been alleged that Siemens Hellas set aside 2 percent of its turnover from telecommunications operations as a slush fund to pay off New Democracy and PASOK officials as well as high-ranking public officials in state organizations such as OTE telecom and the Hellenic Railways Organization. Two of the key suspects who are due to appear before Zagorianos on Wednesday are Siemens Hellas’s former telecommunications manager Prodromos Mavridis and the company’s ex-managing director Michalis Christoforakos. Mavridis and five other former employees of Siemens Hellas have been charged with, among other things, securing a contract with the then state-owned OTE that led to the phone company, and therefore Greek taxpayers, being overcharged by 57 million euros. The answers given by Mavridis could reveal whether public officials accepted under-the-table payments and who they were. Christoforakos’s testimony could be more vital with regard to which politicians were involved in shady deals. However, the closure of Parliament could prove an obstacle to the truth being revealed as there will be no follow-up in the House if the former Siemens manager names names. In Germany, when Siemens was investigated for paying bribes in a number of countries, the key witness in the case, Reinhard Siekaczek, was given immunity from prosecution with regard to any revelations he made about politicians who accepted money but Christoforakos has not been afforded the same benefit.