NEWS

Siemens suspect has strong hand

The ex-managing director of Siemens Hellas, Michalis Christoforakos, who was arrested in Germany last week, has evidence that proves 12 politicians who served as ministers and another 153 deputies received bribes, discounts or gifts from the company between 1997 and 2007, sources close to the former executive have told Sunday’s Kathimerini. Christoforakos was arrested near Munich early on Thursday after spending almost 40 days on the run from Greek justice but sources said that he has not yet decided how much information he will initially release to German prosecutors, who are due to question him to establish whether Greece’s bid to extradite him should be considered. Before leaving Greece in May, Christoforakos allegedly left evidence with two friends which detailed how 12 former ministers of both PASOK and New Democracy governments had accepted payments from the Greek branch of the electronics giant as part of a scheme to secure state contracts. He also documented how 153 MPs had received electrical items from Siemens as gifts or had enjoyed generous discounts on their purchases of goods that included electric lemon squeezers, refrigerators, computers and ovens. The former executive is likely to fight his extradition to Greece. His lawyers have already argued that it is not safe for him to return to Athens because of the information he holds about political figures. But Christoforakos may also argue that since some of the under-the-table payments took place in the last five years with money supplied by Siemens in Germany, the statute of limitations does not apply and he should stand trial in Munich. Sources said that Christoforakos is likely to reveal some damaging details about the benefits received by Greek politicians but is not likely to identify figures that are at the core of the current system. With such a move, he aims to warn some high-profile, active politicians so that Greece does not pursue his extradition too enthusiastically. But at the same time, he does not want to alienate these politicians before his fate is decided, sources said.