Siemens spotlight on Samaras

An e-mail exchange between New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and a relative who worked at Siemens Hellas came to light yesterday as part of Parliament’s investigation into the cash-for-contracts scandal, prompting PASOK to suggest that the conservative politician should appear at the inquiry and the opposition party to accuse the Socialists of playing political games. It emerged that in 2006, Evangelos Sekeris, an executive at the Greek branch of Siemens and Samaras’s brother-in-law, sent the ND politician, then a member of the European Parliament, an e-mail concerning his role at the company. It appears that Sekeris, who had been with Siemens Hellas since 1985, had become frustrated at not climbing the ranks within the company. In his e-mail on July 31, 2006, Sekeris asked Samaras to speak to then Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos and argue his case for promotion. «Christoforakos knows that I know a lot about his dirty tricks but that I have kept my mouth shut so far,» added Sekeris in the message, which also claimed that Samaras had «opened doors» for Siemens in the past. PASOK MPs on the investigative committee suggested that Samaras should be called to answer questions about what links he may have had with Siemens but ND responded by accusing the Socialists of dragging the inquiry «into the mire.» They said that Samaras did not know Christoforakos but that he did call the CEO on his brother-in-law’s behalf. Meanwhile, businessman Marios Katsikas appeared before the panel of MPs yesterday to explain how an e-mail thought to have indicated illicit payments from Siemens to a member of the previous conservative Cabinet was actually referring to money that was due to a company making cabinets for his New York home. Katsikas, who owns 20 companies, said that in 2003 he had paid a 200,000-euro deposit to a businessman friend for the purchase of a property near Athens. However, Katsikas pulled out of the deal and his friend asked another acquaintance, financier Giorgos Kaldis, to transfer the money to Katsikas’s Swiss bank account so he could pay various bills, including for his cabinets. Kaldis wired the money from an account belonging to the Placid Blue Corporation, an offshore company used for Christoforakos’s slush fund. Katsikas said he had no contact with Christoforakos.