Ex-PASOK cadre: ‘Parties took cash’

Theodoros Tsoukatos, one of two former cadres of ruling PASOK to have admitted to accepting money from Siemens Hellas, yesterday submitted a four-page written testimony to a parliamentary committee probing a cash-for-contracts scandal involving the firm in which he states that the granting of »donations» to political parties from private firms and individuals is standard practice. Tsoukatos, who was a close aide to former Prime Minister Costas Simitis in the 1990s, claimed in his deposition that giving donations to political parties «is an established practice that I inherited, not invented.» In the document, Tsoukatos also accused his own party of «lacking the courage to recognize the reality of the way that elections have been funded for years.» The former PASOK official, who was ejected from the party in June 2008 along with former Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis, takes a clear swipe at ruling PASOK and the main conservative opposition New Democracy party in his statement. «Those who insist that their own parties – and I am referring to the large parties – did not receive payments during pre-election periods are fully aware that they are lying,» the statement said. In June 2008, Tsoukatos admitted to having met with the former managing director of Siemens Hellas, Michalis Christoforakos, in 1999 and accepting a payment of 1 million German marks, or the equivalent of 420,000 euros, on behalf of PASOK. In a related development yesterday, the parliamentary committee probing the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal said that former prime ministers would not be summoned to testify in connection to the investigation unless this week’s questioning of bribery suspects in Germany, including Christoforakos, produces new leads.

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