Christoforakos to be extradited

The former CEO of Siemens Hellas, Michalis Christoforakos, accused of managing millions of euros in slush money allegedly used to bribe Greek politicians and public officials, could return to Athens as early as next week to face trial, it emerged yesterday. The development comes after a court in Munich found Christoforakos guilty of bribery and gave him a one-year suspended jail sentence. The verdict paves the way for the former executive to be extradited. Significantly, in its judgment the court identified the political figures to whom Christoforakos is alleged to have made the payments, sparking a string of denials from both New Democracy and PASOK. Specifically, the ruling identifies former party treasurers Yiannis Vartholomaios (ND) and Costas Geitonas (PASOK) as the political figures with whom Christoforakos negotiated. According to the Munich court’s judgment, Siemens Hellas set aside 2 percent of the revenue it received from state contracts to pay off ND and PASOK as part of a bribery system that ran from the 1990s to 2006. Sources suggested that unless Christoforakos suffers any health problems (he has been to hospital several times since being remanded in custody in Germany), he could be in Greece by the end of next week. ND issued a statement yesterday denying that it ever accepted money from Siemens Hellas and called all other allegations «unfounded.» Yiannis Vartholomaios, who went on to become the Social Security Foundation (IKA) chief, died in February 2007 during an altercation with the husband of a woman he was seeing. Geitonas, a former health minister and current MP, also denied accepting any money, claiming that the allegations were «fiction.»