Siemens suspect caught

The former CEO of Siemens Hellas, Michalis Christoforakos, who has been accused of managing the slush funds that were allegedly used to pay off Greek politicians and public servants, was arrested early yesterday in Germany. Christoforakos was arrested at about 6.30 a.m. local time at a private house in Rosenheim, 70 kilometers south of Munich, where Siemens is based, after a raid by local policemen. It is thought that the former executive has been in Germany since fleeing Greece on May 15. Greece issued a warrant for Christoforakos’s arrest last month after he failed to appear in court in Athens to answer questions in connection to his alleged role in the payment of bribes to secure lucrative state contracts for Siemens Hellas, the Greek subsidiary of the German electronics and engineering giant. It is believed that his German lawyers, Stefan Kursawe and Daniel Peter, had been in touch with Munich prosecutors recently, possibly with a view to striking a deal for their client. Christoforakos’s arrest does not necessarily mean that he will be extradited to Greece. He holds a German passport in addition to a Greek one and Germany rarely allows its citizens to be transferred abroad to stand trial. «He does not accept the extradition,» said Alfons Obermaeier, a spokesman for the Munich prosecutor’s office, who said that the process to decide whether Christoforakos would be sent back to Greece could take up to a month. «There are a dozen Greek politicians who are connected to this case that do not want my client to testify,» Kursawe is reported to have told prosecutors in Germany, claiming that it would not be safe for Christoforakos to return to Greece. Sources have told Kathimerini that the former executive informed government officials shortly before leaving Greece that he had evidence to prove that he had bribed seven ministers who served under a PASOK administration and five New Democracy ministers. Meanwhile, former PASOK official Theodoros Tsoukatos, the only political figure to have admitted being given money by Christoforakos, was yesterday given until Wednesday to prepare his defense.