More suspects remanded in Siemens probe

German authorities yesterday issued a warrant for the arrest of the chief suspect in the Siemens probe, as the wife and daughter of another suspect were remanded in custody in Athens. Officials in Munich confirmed that the Munich appeals court, following a request from Greece, issued an arrest warrant for former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos, who evaded Greek justice by fleeing to Germany last month. Christoforakos is suspected of being the main player in the setting up of a slush fund that was allegedly used to pay off politicians and public officials so that Siemens could secure state contracts. Another of the key suspects, former Siemens Hellas general manager Christos Karavelas, who is accused of bribing OTE telecom officials in the 1980s and 90s, is also reported to be in Germany and a warrant is also likely to be issued for his arrest. Karavelas finds himself in a weaker position than Christoforakos as the latter also has a German passport and Germany rarely extradites its citizens. Sources said that Karavelas’s lawyers have been in touch with the German authorities but he does not seem prepared to give himself up. Greek judicial authorities appear to be doing all they can to put pressure on Karavelas to return to Greece after magistrate Nikos Zagorianos decided yesterday to remand his wife Martha and one of his daughters, Vilma, in custody. Karavelas’s two other daughters, Alexia and Phoebe, were released on bail of 1 million euros each. However, the family is likely to appeal the amount as lawyers said that it is not in a position to deposit 2 million euros by Tuesday’s deadline. It was not clear whether the latest developments would influence Karavelas’s decision about whether to turn himself in or not. «What could his motive be for going on trial here when anyone who has received the slush money cannot be examined because of the statute of limitations?» one of his lawyers asked. Meanwhile, former Siemens Hellas executive Ilias Georgiou was remanded in custody on charges of bribery and money laundering. Georgiou appeared in court without a lawyer as his attorney withdrew from the case in protest at the magistrate’s failure to give him full access to the file put together during the investigation.