Siemens Hellas bribery case continues with testimony by former director’s secretary

Political party donations and gifts to politicians were a set policy of the Greek branch of technology giant Siemens, the former secretary of the local director told a court on Tuesday, in the ongoing bribery case.

Ekaterini Tsakalou, former personal assistant to Siemens Hellas head Michalis Christoforakos, repeated evidence she had given previously on the case involving the bribery of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) officials for a digitization contract with Siemens.

Tsakalou alleged that Siemens Hellas had made contributions to several Greek political parties such as Pasok’s youth section and Politiki Anixi, and bribed or gave presents to individual politicians such as PASOK’s Costas Geitonas, Akis Tsochatzopoulos (convicted in another case on defence-related procurements), and Tasos Mandelis (who was convicted of money laundering in the ongoing case), New Democracy’s Dora Bakoyannis, and Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his spouse.

The gifts to political parties were part of a company program, she noted, that corresponded to 2% of the turnover from the telecoms department. She expressed the belief that the parent company in Germany was aware of them.

Gifts of a more personal nature, such as transportation services, she said, were not expensive compared to the 2%, and were considered promotional expenses.

Tsakalou said her former employer had requested that she destroy the files related to gifts to parties and politicians when Germany began investigating the case after 2006, but that she had not done so.

Commenting on Christoforakos, who fled to Germany in 2009, Tsakalou described him as “an extremely effective manager. (…) He was extremely intelligent, manipulative and tragically ambitious,” she said.