Siemens questioning to widen

The magistrate investigating the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal is set this week to ask another 18 people to appear before him as the probe into the alleged payment of bribes by the company’s Greek branch continues. As magistrate Nikos Zagorianos waits to see whether two of the key suspects in the case, former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos and ex-financial manger Christos Karavelas, will return to Greece from Germany for questioning, he will try to wrap up other areas of the investigation by questioning more people. All 18 have been questioned in the past as part of the probe but have not been accused of any crimes. In a bid to ensure that more suspects do not slip through the hands of the judiciary, travel bans were issued for seven of the 18 people due to be called upon by Zagorianos. They are connected to the awarding of the contract for the security surveillance system for the Athens 2004 Olympics to a consortium that included Siemens Hellas. One of those likely to be called up is Karavelas’s 18-year-old son, who will have to answer questions about joint bank accounts that he held with his father. Karavelas has already seen his wife and daughter remanded in custody on charges of being accomplices to bribery, while another two of his daughters have been released on bail for 2 million euros, which they are unlikely to be able to come up with by tomorrow’s deadline. The former Siemens executive has also had his assets in Greece, including several properties, seized in a bid to force him to return to Athens and face Zagorianos. But Karavelas has not given any indication when he might come back. «Leave my wife and family alone, I have evidence that I will be able to produce soon,» he told the Real News weekly. Meanwhile, Sunday’s Kathimerini understands that the other suspect who fled to Germany, Christoforakos, is likely to make a move to go on trial there. Christoforakos possesses a German, as well as Greek, passport and his alleged offenses expired last year under the statute of limitations in Germany.