June 2, 2010 / 7:11 PM / 10 years ago

Greek corruption inquiry lost in translation

ATHENS (Reuters) - Scenting a ministerial bribe, a Greek inquiry into a corruption scandal seized on an email that referred to a deposit for a “cabinet man,” only to find that the payment was in fact to a carpenter.

The email dated March 2008 came under scrutiny from the country’s parliamentary committee looking into a bribes-for-contracts affair involving Siemens as it appeared to implicate a senior minister in the scandal.

“Please see the information required to give the 50 percent deposit for the cabinet man,” the email, sent in English to a businessman being investigated in the affair, read.

Giving evidence to the committee on Wednesday, the email’s recipient said that “cabinet man” was not a government member but a technician fixing cabinets in his New York home and that the email’s sender was a company overseeing the repairs.

“He submitted the email himself as part of his record of communications and it then got entangled in the investigation,” said Panagiotis Rigas, a member of parliament for the ruling PASOK party, who sits on the committee.

Greece has been rocked by a series of major street protests against government measures to cut the country’s deficit and a key demand of the protesters has been a crackdown on corrupt politicians whom they blame for mismanaging the Greek economy.

As a result, politicians have been keen to be seen moving against long-perceived corruption in public life.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton

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