Ex-PASOK official sheds light on finances

A former prominent PASOK official yesterday gave the clearest indication yet that Greece’s political parties bend the rules on campaign contributions when he was called to testify in connection with the alleged payment of almost 500,000 euros to the Socialists by Siemens Hellas. Theodoros Tsoukatos, a former aide of ex-Premier Costas Simitis, was released on bail of 100,000 euros after submitting his written testimony to magistrate Nikos Zagorianos. Tsoukatos admits accepting 1 million Deutsche Marks (the equivalent of 420,000 euros) from then CEO of Siemens Michalis Christoforakos in 1999. However, he insists that the money was paid into PASOK coffers as a contribution to its election campaign. In his testimony, Tsoukatos, who was expelled from the party last year and seems to be at loggerheads with current leader George Papandreou, went further than he had before in describing how campaign contributions were recorded. He suggested that PASOK kept two sets of accounting books, that it accepted contributions above the legal limit and that this was common practice in other parties as well. PASOK responded to his accusations by issuing journalists with photocopies of a handwritten page from its 1999 accounts which it said proved that there was nothing suspicious about the books that it was keeping. «These are official books, which were checked and nothing was found,» said PASOK in a statement. «Whoever cites official books and documents as evidence does so purely as a ruse,» said Tsoukatos in his statement. «They are taking into consideration that confessing the truth will have a greater political cost than keeping up a concerted lie.»