New twist in Siemens investigation

As a former top-ranking executive of Siemens Hellas and an ex-manager of OTE Telecom prepared to face an investigating magistrate over their alleged involvement in the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal, it emerged over the weekend that another former manager of the German firm’s Greek subsidiary, and a key suspect in the probe, had transferred a significant amount of money to Uruguay and bought property in the South American country. OTE Telecom’s former deputy managing director Giorgos Skarpelis and former Siemens Hellas executive Ilias Georgiou, had been due to appear today before a magistrate to answer charges of bribery and money laundering. But sources told Skai yesterday that the two men might not appear after they lodged legal suits against magistrate Nikos Zagorianos following their arrests on Friday, accusing him of breach of duty. Meanwhile, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson revealed that the ministry had received notification from authorities in Uruguay last week regarding the activities of Siemens Hellas former general manager Christos Karavelas, who is accused of being involved in under-the-table payments to OTE Telecom officials between 1997 and 1999. According to a ministry statement released on Saturday, Uruguay’s national agency for the prosecution of money laundering crimes informed the Greek Embassy in Montevideo on May 23 that Karavelas and certain members of his family had transferred an unspecified sum to Uruguay in the late 1990s and subsequently purchased property there. Greek authorities tried to contact Karavelas, but were informed by the latter’s lawyer on Friday that he had gone to Munich. It appears that, following the example of former CEO of Siemens Hellas Michalis Christoforakos, Karavelas fled to Germany last week to avoid facing prosecution on bribery charges. Both the former executives have German citizenship and are believed to be safe from prosecution in Greece for the time being, as German authorities rarely extradite their citizens.