First Siemens suspect remanded

An investigation into the alleged payment of bribes by German electronics giant Siemens that began in the wake of the Athens Olympics five years ago reached a crucial juncture yesterday when a former manager at the company’s Greek branch was remanded in custody and an international arrest warrant was issued for another. The key witness in the case, former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos, failed to appear before magistrate Nikos Zagorianos and instead claimed via his lawyer that he was in Germany to take part in the judicial probe being carried out there and that for health reasons he could not fly back to Greece. Zagorianos immediately issued an international warrant for Christoforakos’s arrest but judicial sources told Kathimerini that it would be difficult to extradite him as he also holds a German passport. Germany does not allow the extradition of its citizens. While Christoforakos’s fate remains to be decided, former telecommunications manager Prodromos Mavridis was last night remanded in custody following five hours of questioning at Athens’s main court complex. Mavridis was one of only two former Siemens Hellas employees who appeared before Zagorianos yesterday and did not ask for a further extension to prepare their defense. The other suspect questioned, former Siemens Hellas financial manager Alexandros Athanasiadis, was released on bail of 700,000 euros. Another three former Siemens employees and an ex-OTE telecom official, who are being treated as suspects, did not appear in court. Christoforakos and Mavridis are alleged to have been behind the creation of a slush fund, which, allegedly with the blessing of the German parent company, they used to pay off politicians and public officials to secure lucrative state contracts.

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