Tougher Siemens probe on way

The head of the parliamentary committee investigating the Siemens bribery scandal, Sifis Valyrakis, said yesterday that the panel will be recommending to the House that a more thorough, preliminary judicial inquiry be held into the affair. Even though the panel of deputies still has another week of questioning witnesses and gathering evidence to go before it is due to submit its final report, Valyrakis says that there is already enough information to point to the involvement of more politicians than just former Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis, who has been released on bail pending his trial for allegedly accepting bribes from the electronics firm. Valyrakis refused to tell reporters which politicians could be implicated, informing them they would have to wait for the final report. However, he did go as far as to suggest that there had been serious delays in the investigation in previous years, when New Democracy was in power, in an effort to cover up the responsibilities of some politicians. «There has been a longstanding, organized effort on many levels, involving the judiciary and politicians, to cover up this affair,» he said. «When the judicial investigation began, it discovered evidence of crimes which, at that time, were not yet subject to the statute of limitations. This information could have been forwarded to Parliament but was not.» Valyrakis indicated that the committee would be recommending that Greece take legal action to recover any damages it incurred through the payment of bribes to officials, which were incorporated in the cost of the contracts the state signed with Siemens. He added that UK-based auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers could also be sued after allegations that it helped OTE telecom cover up wrongdoing in deals that it struck with Siemens.