Former Transport and Communications Minister Tasos Mantelis has offered to return 230,000 euros he received from Siemens in return for a more lenient sentence in his bribery trial, which began Tuesday.
Mantelis asked to make use of a recent law that allows defendants to hand over money earned from corrupt activities so their sentences can be reduced. A 20-year-old jail term, for instance, can be brought down to three years under the legislation. However, the rules are not meant to apply to serving or former officials so the court will have to decide whether Mantelis receive a more lenient sentence.
He is standing trial with four others – his best man Giorgos Tsougranis, tax official Antonia Markou, former Siemens executive Ilias Georgiou and ex-aide Aristides Mantas.
Tasos Mantelis who was Minister for Transport and Communications during the PASOK administration in 1998 admitted in May 2010 to a parliamentary investigation committee that the sum of 200,000 German marks was deposited in 1998 in a Swiss bank account from Siemens during his administration, allegedly for funding his election campaign. A further deposit of 250,000 German marks was made into the same bank account in 2000 which Mantelis claims is from an unknown source.
The money was allegedly paid to the former minister after Siemens secured the so-called 8002 contract to digitize OTE telecom’s network in 1997.
In April 2011, Mantelis was handed a suspended three year prison sentence for making false tax declarations during the time he had received the money.