NEWS

Minister rejects Siemens CEO link

Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou admitted yesterday holding talks with the ex-CEO of Siemens Hellas, Michalis Christoforakos, in December 1999 but insisted that it was a routine meeting that bore no connection to the executive’s alleged role in the cash-for-contracts scandal. Papaconstantinou, who was an adviser to then Prime Minister Costas Simitis, was forced to make a statement after New Democracy MP Panos Kammenos cited a page from Christoforakos’s diary which suggested that the former Siemens CEO had met with the PASOK official. Kammenos is one of ND’s representatives on the parliamentary committee that is currently examining allegations that Siemens Hellas paid millions of euros in bribes to Greek politicians and public officials to secure lucrative state contracts. The page of Christoforakos’s diary is among the documents that have been submitted to the committee. Papaconstantinou suggested in his statement that Kammenos was trying to create a stir over a run-of-the-mill meeting. The finance minister said that in 1999, he advised Simitis on issues relating to the European Union-funded Information Society program. «It was in this capacity that I was asked to meet with Mr Christoforakos, the head of one of the biggest companies in Greece in the technology and computing sectors,» said Papaconstantinou. «In the framework of my duties, I held numerous meetings at about the same time with the heads of all the companies that were involved in this sector.» «It is unacceptable that someone is trying to create false impressions about a meeting that took place in my office and which was strictly within the framework of my institutional duties.» The PASOK MP heading the committee, Sifis Valyrakis, criticized Kammenos for the motives behind yesterday’s move and pointed out that off the top of his head he could remember similar evidence in the case file about four meetings that Christoforakos had with ND officials.