Ex-FM testifies in Siemens probe

Independent MP Dora Bakoyannis, who was foreign minister in the previous conservative government and is planning to announce the formation of her own party soon, yesterday told a parliamentary committee probing the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal that her ministry was not to blame for the flight from the country in May last year of a key suspect in the investigation, as has been alleged, but that it was the fault of the Justice Ministry and state anti-money-laundering committee. In her deposition, Bakoyannis refuted the findings of an inquiry made public in June last year that suggested that staff in her ministry had failed to promptly inform the Justice Ministry that Christos Karavellas, a Siemens Hellas executive at the time, had transferred over 3 million euros to Uruguay. Bakoyannis said the fact that the telegram from the Greek Embassy in Montevideo to the Justice Ministry in Athens was delayed by three days could not be blamed on the Foreign Ministry, noting that Justice Ministry officials had received a tip-off several months earlier about Karavellas’s intentions to abscond. «The three-day delay was not a crucial factor in the disappearance of Christos Karavellas… what was a crucial factor was that eight months earlier the judiciary and the state anti-money-laundering committee had been informed by the British anti-laundering authority that Karavellas had been preparing to leave after withdrawing large sums of money.» After testifying yesterday, Bakoyannis told reporters that she had been smeared during the ongoing probe into the Siemens scandal and was relieved to be setting the record straight. Responding to allegations that she received Siemens household appliances as gifts, she said she had receipts of purchase for all the goods. As for her relationship with Michalis Christoforakos, the former managing director of Siemens Hellas, who disappeared from Greece a few days before Karavellas last year, Bakoyannis said they had been acquaintances but that the relationship had stopped once the scandal broke.

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