An appeals court prosecutor on Monday launched an urgent preliminary examination after a former Siemens official who is a suspect in the Siemens slush funds affair has skipped the country in violation of the restrictive conditions of his release after testimony.
An investigation has also been ordered by chief appeals prosecutor Yiannis Sakelakos into possible penal responsibilities by the authoritative state employees.
According to a report, appearing in the German-based Der Spiegel, Volker Jung, a one-time head of Siemens AG's Communications unit who served as chairman of the Greek subsidiary's (Siemens Hellas) supervisory board from 1998-2003, fled Greece in the middle of last week from the island of Paros, where he was residing, and was currently in Munich.
Jung was released on his own cognizance after testifying before an examining magistrate investigating the case in June 2009 and was banned from leaving the country, while also required to show up at the local police station on Paros the first week of every month.
Jung had testified in early June 2009 before the examining magistrate investigating the case at the time, Nikos Zagorianos, on charges of complicity in bribery (in conjunction with Law 1608/50 on embezzlement of public money) and on money laundering (legitimisation of income from illegal activity).
The examining magistrate and prosecutor at the time agreed to the release of the suspect on restrictive conditions including a prohibition of leaving the country and obligation to appear at the local police station on Paros, where he resided, in the first five days of each month.
Sakelakos has ordered appeals prosecutor Galinos Bris to speedily investigate when, with what means and from where Jung fled Greece. He has also ordered an investigation into blame of the authoritative state employees at airports or ports, and of police officers both at the Paros precinct or their superiors, for not immediately informing the prosecutors' office that Jung had failed to show up at the police station by November 5.
The prosecutors' office was informed verbally on the afternoon of Saturday, November 13, when all the services were closed. According to Der Spiegel, Jung has been in Munich since last Tuesday.
The Appeals Council is due to convene later on Monday to covert the restrictive conditions into temporary remand to enable the immediate issue of an arrest warrant and commencement of procedures of a European arrest warrant.
Arrest warrant for former Siemens executive
issued by Greece
Greek authorities on Monday issued an arrest warrant for former Siemens executive Volker Jung, at one time head of the multinational's branch in Greece. Jung had been charged in connection with an investigation into kickbacks paid by Siemens in Greece and had been released pending trial.
The arrest warrant was issued after he failed to report to the Paros police station near his home, in accordance with the terms of his release after his testimony in June 2009.
The two examining magistrates in charge of the ongoing investigation into the case, as well as the appeals public prosecutors office, were informed of Jung's failure to report to the police station on Monday. In fact, Jung's presence in Munich had been reported by the press the previous Saturday, in an article appearing in the German magazine "Der Spiegel", but no public prosecutor had been officially informed.
The head of the first-instance court public prosecutors was told informally late on Saturday.
An urgent inquiry was launched on Monday to discover how Jung was able to leave the country and to discover who was responsible for allowing his flight.
This is the third time that a suspect wanted in connection with the Siemens case has succeeded in fleeing the country and Greek authorities. He was preceded by former Siemens executive Christos Karavellas, who fled to South America and is also wanted under an international arrest warrant, and Mihalis Christoforakos who took refuge in Germany where he was shielded from extradition as a German national.
Jung's flight to Germany was also discussed by the Parliamentary fact-finding committee investigating the Siemens scandal on Monday. Members of the committee laid the blame for his flight squarely on judicial authorities and said the magistrates investigating the case had delayed in calling Jung to testify a second time.
They pointed out that the 71-year-old former Siemens executive admitted in a document sent to Appeals Court Public Prosecutor Georgios Hatzikos on January 18, 2010 that Siemens executives had essentially formed a criminal organisation.
In light of this, MPs added, Jung should have been summoned to give additional testimony and then remanded in custody given the greater seriousness of the offences he had been accused of.