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02 September, 2015

German industrial giants are mired in corruption scandals in Greece

Siemens, Daimler, Rheinmetall, the cream of German industry, have been mired in cases of alleged corruption in Greece, the country that Berlin has repeatedly admonished for the parlous state of its economy.

No date has been set yet for 19 former executives of German engineering group Siemens to appear in Greek court, but it is expected to be one of the biggest financial trials of the decade in Greece.

More than 60 people in total are being investigated for corruption in the case that US watchdog CorpWatch has labelled "the greatest corporate scandal in Greece's postwar history."

Bavaria-based Siemens, whose links to Greece go back to the 19th century, is suspected of having greased the palms of various officials to clinch one of the country's most lucrative contracts -- the vast upgrade of the Greek telephone network in the late 1990s.

Overall, Siemens allegedly spent 70 million euros on bribes in Greece, according to Greek judicial sources.

The investigation is now in its ninth year with a case brief over 2,300 pages long.

Contacted by AFP, a Siemens spokesman at company headquarters in Munich said: "We don't comment on that case."

Among those suspected of corruption is the group's former point man in Greece, Michalis Christoforakos.

But the 62-year-old, who holds dual Greek and German citizenship and at the height of his influence rubbed elbows with the ensemble of Greece's political elite, is unlikely to face trial.

Christoforakos fled Greece for Germany in 2009, and German justice has refused to extradite him, arguing that the statute of limitations covering his alleged activities has lapsed.

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