The KCRC chief said yesterday German communications giant Siemens was to blame for its part in the West Rail overpayments row. However, chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun defended most of the more than $1.5 billion in extra payments - which included $100 million to Siemens - saying they were caused by unforeseen extra costs. He also rejected calls to suspend chief executive officer Yeung Kai-yin but promised to intervene if he was proved to be obstructing a fair investigation. Despite there being eight more weeks to go before a probe concludes, Mr Tien suggested the fallout concerning the Siemens payment was Siemens' fault. 'Frankly, I think from the very first day it was Siemens' problems,' he told a Legco sub-committee. The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation has been under fire for 28 agreements with contractors to increase contract payments. Siemens was given $100 million above its $287 million tender bid despite failing to meet contract requirements. Mr Tien said Siemens, which won with an unusually low bid, had repeatedly given false hopes that it could make up for the delays last year until reaching the 'point of no return'. The parent company in Germany was kept in the dark about the delay by the local firm, which also had rows with sub-contractors over communication-system delivery, the sub-committee heard. Mr Tien conceded KCRC had virtually no option but to accept paying more in order to put things back on track to complete the project by 2003. Despite calls to suspend Mr Yeung, the new chairman said he needed Mr Yeung's co-operation in the audit by accountants KPMG Peat Marwick. Mr Tien said: 'Mr Yeung will be the first one I ring should there be any delay or questions deliberately unanswered.' Mr Yeung stressed there were no sufficient legal grounds to terminate Siemens' contract at an early stage. He said the firm had to spend an extra $131 million to finish the contract, including compensation for firing the project chief and its sub-contractor. This compared with the $100 million KCRC payment, of which $35 million was for works variations. Except for Siemens, all the additional payments in 27 agreements were due to unforeseen circumstances rather than contractor mistakes, he added. But most lawmakers remained unconvinced. Andrew Cheng Kar-foo of the Democrats said: 'How come you have to compensate for others' faults?' He said Secretary for Transport Nicholas Ng Wing-fui and treasury chief Denise Yue Chung-yee, who sit on the KCRC board, might be seen to have been derelict in their duties. Mr Ng said officials on the board were like other board members, whose role was to make decisions in the KCRC's best interests.