Saturday, October 24, 2020

Athens Court Finds 22 Guilty in Siemens Bribery Trial

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Fourteen years after a judicial inquiry was first launched, the trial into the 1997 Siemens bribery scandal concluded on Tuesday with an Athens court finding 22 of the original 64 defendants guilty of a range of crimes, including money laundering.

The case relates to an estimated 70 million euros’ worth of bribes paid by the German electronics giant and its local subsidiary to clinch a contract with then state-owned telecoms provider OTE. Ten of the original 64 defendants have died since the investigation started.

Among those found guilty by the Athens court that has been hearing the case for the past three years is former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos, who was arrested in Munich in 2009 and held there for questioning rather than being extradited to Greece.

Christoforakos, who has dual German and Greek nationality, reportedly paid Siemens 1.2 million euros in an out-of-court settlement, according to Der Spiegel.

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Christos Karavelas, Siemens Hellas’ former commercial director who violated the terms of his parole in 2009 and fled to Germany, was also found guilty in abstentia, as were two former executives of the parent company, Reinhard Siekaczek and Michael Kutschenreuter. Both have been convicted by courts in Germany, in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

Swiss-French banker Jean-Claude Oswald, who went missing in 2018 after violating his parole, was also found guilty.

The Athens court exonerated Theodoros Tsoukatos, a consultant to former prime minister Kostas Simitis accused of distributed a million deutschmarks to facilitate the deal, saying that the statue of limitations has expired on that crime.

Another five defendants were cleared as a result of recent amendments to Greece’s penal code concerning bribery in the private sector.

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