A German court ruled yesterday that the former head of Siemens’ Greek branch can be extradited to Greece to face charges in a corruption case, and ordered him kept in custody.
The Munich state court considered Michael Christoforakos’ case after Germany’s highest court last week overturned an earlier decision to allow his extradition and his lawyers vowed to seek his release.
Christoforakos faces money laundering and bribery charges in Greece. His lawyers say he is innocent.
The Federal Constitutional Court on Sept. 3 overturned an earlier ruling by the Munich court authorizing an extradition based on bribery and money laundering charges because a statute of limitation may apply.
The Munich court said even under the ruling by the Karlsruhe, Germany-based constitutional court, prosecution for the fraud charges isn’t barred by the statute of limitations.
“The facts of which (the defendant) is accused do not fall under the statute of limitations according to German law, even when the constitutional court’s decision is used as a basis,” the higher regional court in Munich said.
Greek authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Michael Christoforakos, the former chief executive of Siemens Greece, as they accused him of having approved contracts for Siemens with Greek telephone company OTE which were gained through a systematic program of bribery up until 2003.
Germany’s federal constitutional court had struck down an initial ruling last week due to formal errors, halting the extradition process.
A spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office said Christoforakos’s lawyers had appealed Monday’s ruling, meaning the German constitutional court could weigh in again.
Siemens ended one of the biggest corporate corruption investigations in history when it agreed in December last year to pay about 1 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in fines and penalties as a result of investigations by U.S. and German authorities into bribes it paid to win contracts.