Parties squabble over Siemens

The government dismissed as a publicity stunt the request made yesterday by PASOK leader George Papandreou for former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos to hand over any evidence he has of illicit payments made to his party officials. Papandreou sent a letter to Christoforakos’s lawyers asking for the information less than 24 hours after a German court had given the green light for the former executive, who was in charge of the Greek branch of the electronics giant between 1996 and 2007, to be extradited to Greece. In its ruling, the court had named former Socialist Health Minister and current MP Costas Geitonas as the PASOK official who met with Christoforakos and accepted under-the-table payments on the party’s behalf. Geitonas dismissed the claims as «fiction.» PASOK has also poured cold water on the allegations but in a bid to show that it is not afraid of investigating its own members, it has requested that Christoforakos supply any evidence that he may have. The former executive is accused of distributing millions of euros in bribes destined for New Democracy and PASOK as well as public officials to secure state contracts for his company. In the Munich court’s ruling, Yiannis Vartholomaios, ND’s treasurer, is named as Christoforakos’s contact. Vartholomaios died in 2007 when he was in charge of the IKA social security fund. The party denies receiving money from Christoforakos. «I repeat that no money from Siemens has found its way into party coffers,» said ND secretary Lefteris Zagoritis. He accused PASOK’s accounts of being unreliable and said that this was the reason Papandreou was «trying to bypass the justice system» by contacting Christoforakos directly.