Greek judges have announced that 64 people will stand trial over an alleged bribery scandal 17 years ago, involving a telecom contract for German industrial giant Siemens. The scandal first surfaced a decade ago.
An investigative report released on Monday found that some 70 million euros ($76 million) were paid in bribes to secure the 1998 sale of equipment from Siemens to Greece's dominant telecom operator, OTE - known as "Contract 8002."
The suspects, including 13 German nationals, are former Siemens and OTE officials, as well as the ex-treasurer of Greece's former governing party PASOK. The charges relate to "money laundering" and "active and passive bribery."
Paying off parties
In November 2014, Greece's financial prosecutor filed charges against the 64 suspects, sending his 2,368-page report to a council of judges to decide whether the suspects should stand trial over "Contract 8002," which was meant to digitize OTE's telecom network.
Michael Christoforakos is one of the suspects in the case
While estimates vary, the Greek state may have lost up to 80 million euros as a result of the deal, and 50 million euros are thought to have been seized by accounts in Swiss bank accounts.
According to the news site Greek Reporter, 19 of those charged are Siemens executive officials, 14 are OTE executive officials, and eight are employees of the consultancy company involved. The other 23 are all from companies that handled money from Siemens' "black funds."
Among the suspects was the former head of Siemens' Greek arm, Michalis Christoforakos, who was arrested in Munich in 2009. German prosecutors refused Greece's extradition requests, hoping to question him on the extent of the scandal. In 2010, Der Spiegel reported that Christoforakos, who has dual German and Greek nationality, paid Siemens 1.2 million euros in an out-of-court settlement in Munich.
Also on the suspect list is Theodoros Tsoukatos, former consultant to Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, for having allegedly distributed a million deutschmarks to oil the deal.
The only Greek politician to have been convicted because of the scandal is PASOK's ex-Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis, who was handed a three-year suspended sentence in 2011 after he admitted to accepting 450,000 deutschmarks (230,000 euros) from Siemens between 1998 and 2000.
No trial date was set. According to the AP news agency, the charges carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence.