NEWS

Ex-Siemens official back in jail

After spending two months in custody, former Siemens Hellas executive Ilias Georgiou was again sent back to jail yesterday, despite denying any involvement in the bribery of public officials. Georgiou appeared before magistrate Nikos Zagorianos yesterday morning, just hours after being arrested upon his exit from Korydallos Prison. Georgiou had been released from jail after a council of judges deemed that the decision at the start of June to remand the former executive in custody on charges of bribery and money laundering was unlawful. At the time, Georgiou had appeared in court without a lawyer, as his attorney withdrew in protest at the magistrate’s failure to give him full access to the file put together during the investigation. Georgiou yesterday denied any knowledge of the alleged existence of slush funds at Siemens Hellas which were used to pay off politicians and public officials to secure state contracts for the Greek branch of the German electronics and engineering giant. He insisted that up to his departure from the company in September 1998, no such funds existed. He also denied claims made by former OTE telecom official Giorgos Skarpelis that Georgiou was the man who operated a secret bank account under the code name «Franz,» as identified in paperwork obtained from the German company by investigators. Georgiou also denied knowing the identity of the person behind the code name «Rocco.» It has been suggested that this nickname had been allocated to a political figure. Georgiou also argued that the charges against him should not stand as claims that he acted as a middleman in bribing officials to secure a contract with OTE telecom, since the phone company was not damaged in any way by the deal but actually benefited. Meanwhile, officials in Germany confirmed that Michalis Christoforakos, the former CEO of Siemens Hellas, is due to undergo further medical tests in connection to a heart problem. Christoforakos is waiting to hear the outcome of a request by Greece for his extradition.