The series of pensioners detected receiving not particularly legal pensions continues. A prosecutorial investigation is currently underway in Greece in order to reveal and punish not only the recipients of illegal pensions and allowances, but also the civil servants and doctors who helped them to obtain them.
Meanwhile, Minister of Employment Yiannis Vroutsis has announced that the payment of around 2,800 pensions granted by the farmers’ Pension Fund OGA will be suspended as of 1 September, as the people receiving them did not appear to be counted in time. The Ministry said that this would save 14 million euro. The investigation on the island of Zakynthos has also found 61 people who received aids for the blind and had driving licences at the same time.
The Minister announced shortly after his meeting with the deputy prosecutor of the Supreme Court that a law is being prepared under which all recipients of illegal pensions and allowances will be required to return the money to state funds. Furthermore, the insurance funds will introduce a control system that will prevent the granting of illegal pensions in the future.
The prosecution does not fully share the ambition of the government to fully eradicate this phenomenon, because they realize that the search of thousands of offenders across the country is a particularly onerous task. A necessary condition for its success is the cooperation of the competent government departments, which is not necessarily reliable.
The reason for the reserves of the prosecution is the result of an investigation the economic deputy prosecutor Spyros Mouzakitis began about eight months ago. The cause for it were statements made by Minister of Employment at that time George Koutroumanis, who said that the number of illegal pensions was at least 20,000 and the losses due to them have reached 120 million in recent years.
However, when the prosecutor required that the relevant departments provide the necessary data the only information he received within six months was about 13 cases of illegal pensions.
According to sources, prosecutors intend to be firm in their contacts with the state administration in order for legal proceedings to be initiated sooner because some of the violations could fall under the period of legal prescription.
Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and the deputy prosecutor of the Supreme Court decided during the meeting to investigate all participants in the vicious chain. The Ministry has already begun to cooperate with the Revenue Agency to the Ministry of Finance to make comparison of the data of insured persons and capture those evading taxes.
The Minister has assured that all involved in the network will be held accountable - employees in the insurance funds, doctors and others, adding that a law is being prepared under which they will be held not only administratively but also criminally liable for their actions. False retirees will be treated the same way and they will be forced to give up the illegal pensions and allowances and to begin to return the illegally obtained amounts.
The Secretary of the Revenue Agency Haris Theoharis said in turn that the current results of the inspection of the registers of insurance funds, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, show that the recipients of pensions are unclear in 10 per cent of the cases.
"We found tax numbers that belong to legal persons and their holders still receive pensions," he said in an interview on Vima Radio. So far, the inspection of the insurance funds of lawyers, doctors and engineers has been completed. In his opinion, the situation in the funds of the employees in the private sector is better than it is in others.
"The moment we know the name of a recipient of a pension from a particular insurance fund we compare his or her data with the tax returns submitted in recent years. We check the register first and then track the tax number." The Secretary added that there are cases in which recipients of illegal pensions had fabricated tax numbers or submitted tax numbers belonging to other people.