ATHENS (AFP) – The main culprits in a long-running corruption case involving Germany’s Siemens group and Greek telecoms operator OTE were handed 15-year sentences by Greek judges yesterday, a legal source said.
Bavaria-based Siemens, whose links to Greece go back to the 19th Century, had been suspected of greasing the palms of various officials to clinch one of the country’s most lucrative contracts – a vast upgrade of the telephone network in the late 1990s.
A Greek appeals court last month announced 22 convictions in the case, including former Siemens executives and bankers.
Yesterday, it handed down 15-year sentences to former local Siemens head Michalis Christoforakos, who fled to Germany over a decade ago, and to his deputy Christos Karavellas, who is also on the run, among others.
The trial opened in 2015 but the original investigation began over a decade ago. Ten defendants have since died.
A parliamentary committee in 2011 determined that inflated contract prices cost the country at least EUR2 billion (USD2.2 billion at current rates) during the 1990s.
Overall, Siemens allegedly spent some EUR70 million on bribes in Greece, according to Greek judicial sources.
Part of that money is believed to have ended up in the pockets of various senior Greek officials who helped broker the contracts.
The parliamentary committee implicated 15 ministers or former ministers from the then main two parties, Pasok and New Democracy, which had alternated in power over the previous three decades. Two former Pasok officials – a former party strategist and aide to ex-PM Costas Simitis and a former minister – admitted taking money from Siemens.