Siemens ‘bagman’ alters tune over cash payment

The civil engineer who last week admitted to MPs that he had acted as a middleman for Siemens Hellas in the payment of slush money, yesterday told the same deputies that he wanted to withdraw his testimony, claiming that he was unwell when he made the alleged confessions. Businessman Pantelis Karacostas gave a very different account of his dealings with the company in his second appearance yesterday before the parliamentary committee investigating the Siemens scandal. He denied his previous claim that he had received 450,000 marks from the Greek branch of Siemens, which he allegedly handed over to someone he had only identified as a «fat German.» Karacostas told MPs that he had in fact earned the money through business dealings in Germany but was worried about admitting it because he had not paid tax on the earnings. Despite his retraction, Karacostas is set to be charged with a range of offenses after the discovery of letters he had written to the CEO of Intracom technology group, Sokratis Kokkalis. The letters appeared to suggest that Karacostas had been employed by Intracom to help cover up any wrongdoing in a lucrative contract that it signed with OTE telecom in the 1990s. Kokkalis appeared before the parliamentary committee last week and insisted that his company had not bribed any public officials to secure business.

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