The list includes money launderers, tax evaders, fraudsters, smugglers and people who have failed to properly declare their assets but not politicians, local authority officials or any public sector employees embroiled in corruption cases.
The law already allows people to buy off jail time and now could be extended to the kind of scandals that have been common in Greece before the current government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras began cracking down, although there’s still not been a single prosecution of a major tax cheat.
The law reportedly would provide a maximum two-year sentence if thieves return their ill-gotten gains before facing a judge, but if they wait to pay it back after giving a deposition but before standing trial, the jail term will increase to three years. It wasn’t explained how people would be urged to come forward and admit stealing or not paying the government what it’s due.
Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, and his Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister/PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos haven’t signed off on the idea yet though.
It is expected that the new regulations, which the Justice Ministry has been working on for some time, will be submitted to Parliament in September. The ministry said it studied similar legislation in the United States before arriving at its proposal.
The draft law will also give the government the power to liquidate the assets of anyone convicted of financial offenses or of state corruption. If the convict acquiesces, jail sentences could be reduced. The combination of measures is expected to bring about 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in revenues into public coffers, sources told Kathimerini.
Apart from providing the government with critical revenues, the new law would also help reduce overcrowding at Greek jails, which the government has promised to address.
Prosecutors are now investigating hundreds of of cases involving suspected corruption, including 12 arms deals, the finances of some 6,000 NGO’s and a number of public works projects. Greece is the number one country in Europe for corruption.