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Greek and German media focusing on Mihalis Hristoforakos

12 November 2009 / 13:11:39  GRReporter
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Kremena Koutsoukou

On November 4 the Court of Appeal in Bamberg decided that the accusations against former manager of Siemens Mihalis Hristoforakos are “unacceptable” due to the statute of limitations according to the German legislature. The accusations were regarding the fraud against the Greek state for the security program C4l of the 2004 Olympic Games.

The German media did not make detailed announcements about this decision, even though the development in the case was tracked from the very beginning. Most of the media quoted Deutsche Presse Agentur, which briefly reported the decision of the Court of Appeal in Bamberg. The title of the article is “Former Siemens manager can relax” and it says that: “After measuring powers for weeks the deportation of former Siemens manager Michael Hristoforakos in Greece ended.” Hamburg evening newspaper “Hamburger Abendblatt” reported the news in a short article and the latest reports on the case in “Deutsche Zeitung” and “Focus” are from October, when the businessman was released on bail.

In Greece journalists report with irony that finally the third European order, issued from the Athenian prosecutor’s office for arresting the businessman, will be thrown to the garbage. One of the biggest scandals throughout the last few years ended with “victory” for the Greek state.

Who is Mihalis Hristoforakos?

The businessman’s profile in the German version of Wikipedia says: “Michael Hristoforakos is a German-Greek manager standing in the middle of a corruption scandal with bribes in Greece.” The businessman is both German and Greek citizen. He graduated from University of Karlsruhe majoring in Physics, where he also received a Doctorate. His professional path brought him to Siemens in Munich.  For six years he managed the Siemens offices in Nixdorf and in 1996 he was sent to Athens, in order to become the head of Siemens’ daughter firm in Greece. From 2006 both the Greek and German justice systems are investigating Hristoforos for participation in corruption plans. Leads show that the Greek Siemens had bribed OTE in order to ensure huge deals with the national telecommunication company and also the army and the government. Bribed were OTE directors, politicians. Also the pre-election fights between the two biggest parties in Greece – New Democracy and PASOK, were financed. Another accusation against Hristoforakos, which was included in the second arrest warrant by the Athens prosecutor’s office, is for fraud in regards to the ordered security equipment by Siemens for the Olympic Games in 2004.

After the accusations the businessman left for Germany. Probably one reason for this is because according to old Greek laws, for such accusation he could be facing lifetime in jail in Greece. The businessman’s lawyer says: “If Hristoforakos takes the stand in Greece, many Greek politicians will be afraid. If he sets foot on Greek territory, his life will be threatened.” From then on the businessman’s plan is to face the German court, instead of the Greek one, and in front of the prosecutor’s office in Munich he even admitted about the bribes.

In June 2009 he was arrested in Bayern, after which he spent almost 4 months the Munich jail. The court in Munich allowed his deportation back to Greece two times but both times Hristoforakos managed to stop his deportation through constitutional claims. On October 20 the businessman was released on €250 000 bail. Few days ago, on November 4 the Court of Appeal in Bamberg, permanently dropped all charges due to the statute of limitations. Not only this but the amount of €250 000 he paid not too long ago, will be paid back to him…

Happy ending for the businessman’s saga. For now. 

Tags: Siemens scandal 2004 Olympic Games Mihalis Hristoforakos
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