Court hands down maximum sentence for several found guilty in Siemens case

An Athens Criminal Appeals Court on Monday imposed the maximum sentences allowed by law on several former top executives at Siemens and the Greek telecoms utility OTE, who had been found guilty of illegal money transfers from the German multinational’s slush funds.

The court had found 22 people guilty in a trial regarding the payment of kickbacks to Greek officials and executives at the state-owned telecoms firms for contract 8002 signed by OTE and Siemens in 1997. Several of the defendants were acquitted as the bribery charges against them had become statute-barred but the rest were found guilty of non-statute-barred offences related to money-laundering.

Sentences for former executives at the German firm and its subsidiary in Greece ranged from seven years in prison to the maximum of 15 years allowed under the new penal code. For former OTE executives, the penalties start at 10 years and the highest was 15 years for former OTE chief Giorgos Skarpelis.
Among those given the maximum sentence were Michalis Christoforakos and Christos Karavellas, both fugitives from justice, Prodromos Mavridis and the former CEO of Siemens AG, Heinrich von Pierer. Very high sentences were also handed down for former Siemens manager Thomas Ganswindt (13 years) and Alexandros Athanasiadis (10 years) while the rest of the German firm’s executives each received sentences of seven years.

Of the executives at OTE, Giorgos Argyropoulos and Dimitris Kouvatsos were sentenced to 14 years each, Panagiotis Nikakis to 13 years, Dimitris Gyftopoulos to 12 years and Nikolaos Nintos to 10 years.
Harsh sentences were also reserved for the two bankers that acted as intermediaries: Fanis Lyginos was sentenced to 12 years and Jean-Claude Oswald to 14 years. The business people involved (Giorgos Kaldis and Alexandros Letsas) were each sentenced to six years as the court recognised one mitigating circumstance for each of them.

Martha Karavella, spouse of Christos Karavellas, was sentenced to 13 years as co-founder and manager of the offshore firm that received cash transfers from Siemens.