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Corruption in Greece will finally become a felony

25 February 2010 / 09:02:21  GRReporter
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Loss of office and criminal liability will be consequences for MPs, ministers, representatives of local authorities and judicial officers (or closely related) who are involved in offshore or are hiding income. This provides the new anti-corruption bill, which the PASOK government will use to bring order in the public sector. In establishing discrepancies between declared and actual incurred expenses, the offenders will be deprived of their civil rights (prison) and also there will be some seizures. From two to five years in prison are the most severe penalties for state power representatives, who have proved to have a connection with offshore companies. In proof of corrupt practices the involved government officials will be deprived of civil rights and automatically lose their office and right to work in the public sector. 

Besides corruption, the law will punish acts such as embezzlement and abuse of official position. Customs and tax authorities, who have committed financial irregularities amounting to over €15 thousand, will be prosecuted. MPs and ministers are considered to have committed felony when involved in embezzlement or other illegal acquisitions of assets worth more than €73 thousand. This law is in force since 1996 but so far not a single politician has convicted under it, regardless of the constantly emerging corruption scandals. 

In the bill to combat corruption the government of Giorgos Papandreou does not provide punishment for citizens and officials who report corrupt acts or facilitate their disclosure. It is being discussed that mitigating circumstances will apply not only to corruption, but also to complaints about drug-related crimes and terrorism. 

The most powerful corrupt activity in recent years is noted in the hospital sector, the tax agency and the issuance of building permits. 60% of all corrupt practices were committed in one of those three types of institutions. According to a survey conducted by Public Issue on behalf of the NGO company “National transparency for Greece”, Greeks have given bribes amounting for €748 million in 2008. One of every seven respondents stated that he or she had given at least one bribe in the private or public sectors over the past year to receive services “in a different way”.

Tags: Greece Economy Laws Felony Corruption
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