German input sought in probes

Greek judicial authorities are to make a formal request to German authorities, as part of an ongoing investigation into corruption, about a deal that the government signed in 2000 to buy four submarines. Sources said yesterday that prosecutor Popi Papandreou is due to write to the prosecutor’s office in Munich for details of a probe that has been carried out in Germany as part of a bid to speed up proceedings in Greece. German prosecutors are investigating claims that the MAN Group, manufacturers of engineering equipment and commercial vehicles, paid bribes to foreign officials to secure contracts. As part of the probe, German authorities discovered a series of illegal payments to recipients in Portugal, Pakistan and Greece in connection to the construction and sale of submarines. It has been claimed that Ferrostaal, until last year a subsidiary of MAN, which was part of the consortium that won the contract in 2000 to supply the Greek navy with four submarines, paid substantial bribes to secure the deal for the first of these vessels. The agreement for the four submarines was worth 1.26 billion euros. Sources that are close to the Munich investigation said that the under-the-table payments reached 83 million euros. The deal for the submarines was controversial, as Greece did not accept delivery of the first vessel due to technical problems. The two sides only reached an agreement this March and Athens intends to sell the submarine to a third party. Meanwhile, members of the parliamentary committee investigating the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal are due to travel to Munich next week to question former employees of the electronics giant in connection to claims that the company bribed Greek officials.