Beware Greeks Bearing Translations

Beware Greeks Bearing Translations

by Translation Guy on July 28, 2016

Ah, the awe-inspiring power of translation! It can bring people together, help them communicate better with each other and foster international conversations. But when you flip to the other side of the coin, translation also has the power to be used as a stall tactic by multinational companies accused of wrongdoing.

In the case of the Greek authorities taking on Siemens: Greek tragedy or soap opera saga? Before the courts decide (or not), you get to be the judge!

Greece Not Amused By the German Giant

In 2015, Greece charged the German engineering company Siemens with bribery, purporting that the company paid 70 million euros in exchange for a contract worth 464.5 million euros.

However, the Greek investigations have been mounting for 10 years, with the charge sheet stretching on for more than 4,500 pages. Naturally, Siemens has not been pleased with the attention from the Greek authorities into their affairs. In fact, tempers flared highest in 2010 when Siemens halted the operation of 35 traffic lights in downtown Athens.

Still the case has been postponed, including for reasons such as the death of the trial judge. However, the most recent postponement was the brainchild of Siemens’ defense lawyers.

Siemens Strikes Back

According to international law, the lawyers pointed out, the charge sheet – already running into the thousands of pages – should be translated into the defendants’ native languages: German and French. And the court agreed.

The Greeks currently have their work cut out for them. They are busy translating the charge sheet, witness summons and other important documents into German and French. But after that, the Greek Justice Ministry plans to continue with the trial.

No matter what tactics Siemens comes up with next, the Greeks want the German engineering company to answer to the bribery charges.

So readers, what do you think? Greek tragedy, soap opera saga or business as usual?

(This Greek tip comes from Slator: in my opinion, the best industry publication besides “The Translator’s Tool Box.”)

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