Parliament president to ask BoG governor to testify to Parliament on Siemens settlement

ANA – MPA — Parliament President Zoe Konstantopoulou on Monday said she plans to summon Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras, a former Greek finance minister, to testify before Parliament’s Institutions and Transparency Committee in connection with the Siemens case, so that he might brief MPs on an out-of-court settlement between the Greek state and the German multinational that he had signed as minister in 2012.

Konstantopoulou said that she questioned the validity of the settlement, given that it was signed in August 2012 when the country “was in such a dire position that I do not think anyone had the authority to waive such claims.”

She noted that a Parliamentary inquiry had reached a conclusion that the damage to the state as a result of Siemens’ actions was a minimum of two billion euros and that, as a result of the settlement signed by Stournaras, the Greek state had given up the overwhelming part of these financial claims in an agreement that she called “shameful and damaging” to Greece’s interests.

Her positions were attacked by opposition MPs, who pointed out, among others, that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had cited the difficulty of cancelling the out-of-court settlement since its implementation had already begun.

In 2012, Greek finance ministrer Yannis Stournaras, announced he had signed a settlement with Siemens that “achieves significant financial benefit and the benefit to the real economy.”

The deal formally settles a claim for 2 billion euro damages following years of investigation into  allegations that Siemens used bribery to secure a raft on telecommunications contracts and many other government contracts including a security system for the Athens’ Olympic Games in 2004 that never worked.

Under the terms of the settlement, the German group has agreed to write-off €80m it is owed by the Greek state and guarantee a further €250m of investment in the country.

Siemens will pay €90m over five years to fund Greece government infrastructure, from medical equipment to university research programmes. It has also pledged to invest a €100m in Greece during 2012 “to ensure the continued presence and activity of the company, which currently employs more than 600 employees”, according to the statement. In addition, the company has agreed to “build a new plant in Greece with a budget of over €60 million, which will lead to the employment of over 700 people.”

No specific information was given on how much progress was made by Siemens on the implementation of the settlement.