NEWS

Kokkalis cool during Siemens questioning

The CEO of the Intracom telecommunications systems and technology group, Sokratis Kokkalis, told a parliamentary inquiry into the Siemens scandal yesterday that his company did not collaborate with the Greek branch of the German electronics giant and that his firms had never engaged in corrupt practices to secure contracts. Kokkalis’s testimony had been long-awaited as it was the first time he has faced questions about his alleged links to Siemens Hellas and its CEO, Michalis Christoforakos, in several years of investigating by Parliament and judicial authorities. However, Kokkalis did not give the MPs any insight into Siemens activities, as he insisted that Intracom was its competitor. He rejected the claims of former Siemens executives in Germany who said that Kokkalis and Christoforakos were close and that Intracom often acted in cahoots with Siemens in Greece. The tycoon said he was not surprised about the allegations that Siemens Hellas made under-the-table payments to politicians and public officials to ensure it gained state contracts. «Bribes were one of the ways that companies secured business in Greece but I have never given money to anyone,» Kokkalis told the panel of deputies. The businessman also refused to reveal whether he had paid money to political parties or politicians. «I have been called before this committee to answer questions about what Siemens did, not what I did,» he said. Meanwhile, New Democracy walked out of a second parliamentary committee this week when its deputies quit the inquiry into the sale of structured bonds to pension funds. Sources said that the conservatives plan to withdraw from all the committees, as they feel the inquiries are helping to make ND a scapegoat for the country’s economic problems.