Greek Court Gives 15-Year Sentences in Siemens Bribery Case

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Alexandros Zontanos)

ATHENS – Some 14 years after a trial began into a case alleging the Germany engineering giant Siemens bribed officials in Greece, the key defendants who were convicted – some outside the country – were given 15-year sentences.

The former CEO of Siemens Hellas Michalis Christoforakos, Siemens Hellas’ former commercial director Christos Karavelas and Prodromos Mavridis, former telecommunications manager for Siemens Hellas, got the longest terms.

Germans who once worked for the company got heavy sentences too, with Eduard Pierer getting 15 years, Thomas Ganswindt and Michael Kutschenreuter 13 years while Reinhard Siekaczek, Wolfgang Rudolph, Hans Jagemann and Franz Richter each got seven-year terms.

Christoforakos 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 ($1.33 million) in an out-of-court settlement, according to Der Spiegel.

Laravelas, Siemens Hellas’ former commercial director who violated the terms of his parole in 2009 and fled to Germany, was also found guilty in abstentia.

Six former executives of Greek state telecoms provider OTE got between 15 and 12 years while two businessmen got six years each and three bankers got between 12 and 13 years but Kathimerini said it wasn’t clear whether any terms might be suspended.

The case involved some over some 70 million euros ($77.10 million) in bribes paid by the German electronics giant and its local subsidiary to clinch a contract with then state-owned telecoms provider OTE. Ten defendants have died since the investigation started.

Swiss-French banker Jean-Claude Oswald, who went missing in 2018 after violating his parole, was also found guilty, lessening the findings as the top tier of those found guilty won’t face justice in Greece and with no account of where the money went.

The Athens court cleared Theodoros Tsoukatos, a consultant to former prime minister Kostas Simitis accused of distributed a million deutschmarks ($566,358) in payoffs, but left untouched because the statue of limitations expired on the crime.

Tsoukatos claimed he merely accepted the money as a donation to then ruling PASOK party, which he said he turned over to the party’s fund with no report who got it or where it went or if a money trail was followed during the prosecution.

The convictions are for money laundering as the bribery charges have expired while five defendants were cleared as a result of recent amendments to Greece’s penal code concerning bribery in the private sector passed by the former ruling Racial Left SYRIZA just before it was ousted in July 7 snap elections by New Democracy, which hasn’t moved to upgrade all the charges in some of the cases.

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