In a deal loaded with Schadenfraude, the Greek finance ministry announced it had signed a settlement with Siemens that “achieves significant financial benefit and the benefit to the real economy.”
The deal formally settles long-running allegations that Siemens used bribery to secure a raft on contracts for the Athens’ Olympic Games in 2004.
It was signed by Greece’s finance minister Yannis Stournaras last week, according to a notice on the Greek treasury website. At the time, prime minister Antonis Samaras was in Berlin asking Angela Merkel for “time to breathe” on the bail-out deadlines. “By signing the agreement, the Greek government achieves significant financial benefit and the benefit to the real economy through positive actions and a range of benefits,” the statement said.
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.”
Greece also intends to appoint its own equivalent to the troika inspectors: Siemens has agreed to a “corporate compliance program under a committee appointed by the Greek government.” Finally the company must pay the Greek government’s legal costs, as well as its own.
Siemens declined to comment.
Greek prosecutors spent years investigating allegations that Siemens bribed officials to win contract from Hellenic Telecom between 1997 and 2020, and a new security system for the Athens Olympics.
Last year a Greek parliamentary committee sent a letter to Siemens claiming the total damage to the economy amounted to €2bn. The company rejected the claim.
Even so opposition politicians in Athens have reacted angrily to the size of the settlement. Dimitris Papadimoulis, spokesman for the leftist Syriza party, said it was an “extrajudicial compromise” that favoured Siemens not Greece. He said the company was being asked to provide “crumbs” before walking “scot free” from a huge scandal that cost the state €2bn It was “yet another scandal in a larger scandal”, he said.
Costas Markopoulos, group secretary of the Independent Greeks party, said: “Mr Samaras was elected with the banner of a renegotiation (of the Memorandum), which he immediately forgot… he went to Ms Merkel with a ‘gift’ being the settlement of Siemens’ debts, and forgot the extension.”