A world in economic crisis

A German-Greek scandal

Posted in European Union, Greece by Aussie on May 22, 2010

Complicit in Corruption: How German Companies Bribed Their Way to Greek Deals – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Whilst I should be shocked over the issue of bribes relating to Germany and Greece, I must admit that I am not shocked at all. Perhaps it is because for many years I have known that bribes are the way in which many companies and countries around the world do business. I first became aware of these bribe scandals when I learned about the bribes that take place when dealing with Indonesia. I learned about those bribes perhaps 10 years ago. Is it any wonder that I am not shocked to learn that the lazy Greeks have used a similar system when dealing with other countries. On top of that I am aware that bribes is also the way that many Chinese do business. How strange that when a Chinese councilor in Sydney (a man who was a member of my own church parish) was caught accepting a bribe, I had the urge to justify his actions, based upon what I had learned about such cultures.  However, I am ahead of myself in dealing with this topic:

It seems that in the Greek economy there is what is known as miza and fakelaki. The fakelaki is the small envelope type bribe that might be paid to a doctor or a tax auditor. On the other hand the miza is the small suitcase kind of bribe and without miza no foreign company can do business within Greece. To me this sounds exactly like doing business in Indonesia. The large bribes are especially prominent with large government contracts. The bribes themselves enrich industrialists, civil servants, politicians and military, whilst the payments themselves are written off as commissions for negotiating contracts.

What has this got to do with Germany? Well it seems that the German car company Daimler has been paying miza to pave the way for vehicle deliveries to Greece. Germany’s national railway operator  Deutsche Bahn resorted to bribes to win an underground railway contract in preparation for the Athens Olympic games in 2004. Another corrupt company involved with Miza is Siemans.

Investigators into the Siemens scandal have found that the company’s Greek branch needed an annual slush fund of some €15 million. To secure the €500 million OTE contract alone, the firm allegedly paid €35 million in miza in the late 1990s. At Siemens headquarters in Munich, they spoke with great admiration of their branch in Athens for years — hardly any other national subsidiary had delivered such impressive results.

Even politicians in Athens have allegedly benefited from the deal. According to statements made by company executives involved in the payoffs, up to 2 percent of the revenues from the Siemens Hellas telecommunications division were paid to the two main political parties, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, better known as PASOK, and the conservative New Democracy. In Athens one never knows which government will remain in office — or for how long. Both parties have denied accepting any payments.

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