While Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has been touting his push to cut down the level of corruption in Greece – the highest in the European Union – an anti-graft chief hired last summer said he’s still waiting for funding, saying it’s been hampered by people who don’t want wrongdoing to be uncovered.
Former Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes said in an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini that a lack of funding is hampering efforts to fight corruption and that if this is not addressed he will start publicly naming the people who are failing to fulfill their duties.
He said money promised to put an anti-corruption office together has not materialized and he suspects its’ deliberate to thwart attempts to root out graft and bribery which affects almost all aspects of Greek life, from civil servants who want money to speed an application, to doctors asking for money to perform operations, and up to ministers.
“The funds are there but, unfortunately, due to purely bureaucratic reasons and people fearing responsibility, their distribution is being unacceptably delayed,” he said. “I am being patient but if this situation continues I will start attributing responsibility,” he warned.
Tentes suggested that the funds could be used to raise awareness but also to purchase equipment. “Our strategy against corruption includes a variety of measures and policies,” he said.
“It includes technical assistance, education programs, awareness schemes and strengthening the judicial system with modern information systems and equipment that could improve its productivity.”
Even without his office operating, he said there are signs corruption is being reduced, especially with the long jail sentences given to former defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos after being convicted of money laundering and former Thessaloniki mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos for embezzling 18 million euros ($24.8 million).
“Statistics show that corruption has been on the wane during the last few years,” he said. “I have reason to believe that to a large degree this is due to the visibly greater activity from prosecutors and courts.”
In 2012, the Athens office of Transparency International said an estimated 554 million euros ($764.18 million) was paid in bribes in the public sector the previous year, down from 632 million euros ($871.7 million) in 2010.
Hospitals, tax offices and town-planning offices ranked top of the list of public services where “fakelakia” (literally “small envelopes,” or bribes) were paid to officials.
The agency’s Athens chief, Costas Bakouris, earlier told SKAI TV that, “In some cases, the laws actually condone graft.
His comments came in the wake of an IT study which found the country’s judiciary, the media and the business world to be the most susceptible to corruption.