ATHENS- A Greek prosecutor said 20 defendants found guilty in the Siemens bribery case should not be shown leniency, although the major characters had long fled and were convicted in absentia to escape justice.
A court found 22 people guilty of a range of crimes including money laundering after hearing the case – which began 14 years earlier – for more than three years and is due to deliver sentences.
Prosecutors said some 70 million euros ($77.15 million) was paid by the German electronics giant and its local subsidiary to clinch a contract with Greek state telecom company OTE. The case took so long that 10 other defendants have died.
A law passed by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA just before losing office led to a downgrading of charges and others being dropped against five defendants.
Among those found guilty by the Athens court was 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 ($1.33 million) in an out-of-court settlement, according to Der Spiegel.
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, said Kathimerini and Greek media.
Karavelas, a former company official and trade unionist with the one-time state-run telephone utility in Greece, OTE, fled the country for South America.
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 statute of limitations expired on the crime.
Tsoukatos claimed he 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.