Greece’s Supreme Court said it wants to know if the country’s Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) has a list 30 of politicians, including former ministers, current lawmakers, local authority officials and general secretaries at ministries, who it is reportedly investigating for corruption and tax evasion.
Supreme Court deputy Prosecutor Nikos Pantelis asked Greece’s two financial prosecutors, Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis, to conduct a preliminary investigation to establish whether such a list exists and what stage SDOE’s probe has reached. If the list exists, then prosecutors will take over the investigation, the newspaper Kathimerini reported.
SDOE began looking into the financial dealings of some 500 national and local politicians earlier this year. At the beginning of this month, it announced that it had frozen the assets of 121 suspected tax evaders as part of a separate investigation.
The Swiss Banking Association has also refused to give Greece a list of those with accounts in that country although former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, now the PASOK Socialist leader, said he was trying to negotiate the release of the names previously.
Peponis last month ordered a preliminary investigation into claims that some public enterprises and other state-related bodies did not reduce their employees’ wages as they were supposed to do in 2011 and that rather than reduce wages by up to 35 percent, bosses and unionists colluded in order to raise wages via increased benefits and other methods. Peponis asked prosecutor Giorgos Noulis to investigate at which organizations this happened and how much this cost the state.
Earlier this month, the Finance Ministry forced the resignation of Anastasios Barakos, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Larco General Mining & Metallurgical Co SA, the country’s ferronickel producer, after he was accused of not implementing the wage cuts approved by Parliament last year.
That came as the Health Ministry said it would begin disciplinary proceedings against those involved in the awarding of fraudulent disability benefits to dozens of people of Zakynthos who claimed to be blind but had no problem with their vision.
During checks earlier this year, the IKA-ETAM social security fund found that 388 islanders were claiming the benefits and asked them to appear for new exams, but 167 refused. Of the remaining 221, only 39, or just under 20 percent, were found to have complications with their sight.
Zakynthos Mayor Stelios Bozikis said that the fraudulent claims were costing the Greek state 2.5 million euros or $3.23 million per year. The doctor who issued the blindness certificates was transferred away from the island pending the investigation. In a related development, the Labor Ministry said it had stopped paying 8,800 pensions after the recipients failed to respond during a census that was launched last year. It was not clear how much this was saving the government.