Business

Former Greek minister says was given money by Siemens

Athens Olympics
Image caption Athens Olympics opening ceremony - the case relates to contracts linked to the Games

A former Greek minister says he was given money by the German electronics giant Siemens.

His statement comes amid an investigation into bribes paid to politicians in return for contracts.

The former Socialist transport minister, Tassos Mantelis, told a parliamentary committee he had accepted the equivalent of 100,000 euros (£116,000, $122,000) in 1998.

The minister said the money had been paid as a "campaign donation".

The money was paid into a Swiss bank account and Mr Mantelis has been charged with money laundering.

The case relates to contracts being granted in the run-up to the Athens Olympics of 2004.

Siemens officials are accused in Greece accused of paying politicians and officials at the state telecoms operator OTE to help it get a multi-million-euro contract before the Games.

Co-operating

A Siemens spokesman was quoted on the Reuters newsagency saying they were helping with the process.

Speaking from the group's headquarters in Munich, he said: "The authorities came to Siemens and we are fully co-operating."

He declined to comment on Mr Mantelis' statements.

At the time of the payments to Mr Mantelis, who had responsibility for OTE at the time, Germany was still using the Deutschmark.

A second sum, worth around 110,000 euros, was paid into the same account by an unknown donor in 2000.

Greece's Supreme Court on Thursday pressed money laundering charges against Mr Mantelis and banned him from leaving the country.

The minister is the latest high-profile Greek to be in the spotlight for wrong-doing with money.

Corruption

Earlier this month, a serving minister, who was deputy for tourism, was dismissed over her husband's unpaid taxes.

Corruption in Greece has been thrown into the spotlight in recent months, with its poor record on of tax collection and propensity to black market payments seen as one reason for its poor economic health compared with other eurozone countries.

The Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, has pledged he will stamp out corruption in his country.

Siemens itself though has been embroiled in bribery cases before.

In 2008, it paid out 1.3 billion euros ($1.6bn) in penalties and fines as a result of US and German investigations into bribes to foreign officials between 2000 and 2006, making it the biggest scandal in corporate German history.

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