Siemens divides parties

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Former Prime Minister Costas Simitis led the way yesterday in attacking the parliamentary committee that has decided that the House should vote on whether he and 13 former and serving ministers should face further investigation in connection to the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal.In a statement, the ex-premier accused New Democracy, whose MPs recommended that he should face further action, of engaging in “extreme opposition.” “New Democracy prefers dead ends to solutions,” he said. “The position it took in the report displayed clearly why this country is bedeviled and lagging behind others.”Simitis, who was prime minister between 1996 and 2004, said the deputies’ report was full of “inaccuracies” and “misrepresentations.” The ND parliamentarians made it clear in their summing-up that they thought the Siemens scandal, which allegedly involved the Greek branch of the German engineering and electronics giant paying millions of euros in bribes to Greek politicians and officials, was purely a product of previous PASOK governments.Simitis has always denied any involvement in accepting under-the-table payments from Siemens or of being aware of any of his ministers doing so. However, last September Theodoros Tsoukatos, a close aide to Simitis in the 1990s, claimed in his deposition to the committee that it was “an established practice” for some companies to make donations to political parties. Tsoukatos was ejected from PASOK in June 2008 along with former Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis after admitting to accepting money from Siemens.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.Unlike Tsoukatos, Mantelis has been charged for accepting the equivalent of about 300,000 euros from Siemens. He claims the money was a campaign donation.The parliamentary committee set up to investigate the allegations late on Thursday reported back after a year’s work, naming 13 ministers or former ministers from the two parties.The parliamentarians representing the ruling PASOK party provided the most comprehensive report, recommending that 13 ministers, some of them from their own ranks, should be investigated further by Parliament.Their report suggested that Tasos Mantelis, Christos Verelis, Yiannos Papantoniou and Nikos Christodoulakis of PASOK and Michalis Liapis and Giorgos Alogoskoufis should be probed in connection to the purchase by state-run OTE telecoms of equipment from Siemens at allegedly inflated prices. It also proposes that Papantoniou and former conservative ministers Giorgos Voulgarakis, Vyron Polydoras, Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Christos Markoyiannakis should be investigated for their part in the purchase of the C4I security system for the Athens Olympics. It further recommends that Akis Tsochatzopoulos should be probed over arms procurements and Liapis in connection to the purchase of hand-held electronic guides by the Culture Ministry.New Democracy, however, identifies the Siemens scandal as an affair that relates to PASOK only. In their report, the ND parliamentarians recommend that former PASOK ministers Papantoniou, Christodoulakis, Mantelis, Tsochatzopoulos, Verelis, Evangelos Malesios, current Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and former Prime Minister Costas Simitis should face further investigation.Although Parliament will now have a chance to vote on whether to probe the matter further, the possibility of any of the politicians identified by the committee facing action is remote as in 11 of the 13 cases, the statute of limitations applies to any offenses they may have committed. Only Pavlopoulos and Markoyiannakis, who served in the previous ND government could be prosecuted.In any case, only three former ministers, conservatives Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Christos Markoyannakis and a for PASOK parliamentarian, Tassos Mantelis, can be prosecuted.A law that provides a short statute of limitations for ministers means the others cannot be pursued.Source: Kathimerini, AFPlast_img

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