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Disciplinary councils provide immunity to officials violating the law

17 November 2013 / 17:11:07  GRReporter
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The legislative amendment which should speed up the disciplinary process so that officials investigated for crimes can be fired exists only in words. Examiners of the Public Administration have discovered 55 cases of convicted public officials who remain steadfast in their positions because their cases have not yet been considered by disciplinary councils. These are primarily tax and customs officials. Lawsuits have been brought against them or penalties have been imposed on them for various offences.

Once again, and despite the legislative work of Minister of Administrative Reform Kyriakos Mitsotakis to speed up the disciplinary procedures in the public sector, it is clear that disciplinary councils provide immunity to convicted officers, delaying the consideration of their cases for years.

Therefore, by order of Mitsotakis an inspection of disciplinary procedures is being carried out by inspectors of the state administration in all government offices.

The cases of 55 employees of the Ministry of Finance are characteristic, since they mainly affect tax and customs officers against whom prosecution has been exercised or have been given sentences imposed by courts for criminal offences but on whom disciplinary councils have not yet passed sentence.

Some of them have been accused of serious crimes such as extortion, smuggling, money laundering from criminal activity, passive bribery, misappropriation, document fraud, forgery, fraud, violation of state secrets, breach of duty, etc.

According to a recent legislative provision of the Ministry of Administrative Reform, voted in parliament, disciplinary councils have to meet within 20 days after the announcement of the prosecution. In cases of felonies, disciplinary councils may impose suspension from work until the court passes a sentence.

According to Ethnos, inspectors have found that disciplinary councils have recorded delays of 1 to 2 years in terms of the examination of cases in the past and that under the previous disciplinary law they did not meet until the court passed a sentence.

An interesting case among the 55 cases is that of a tax officer who has been indicted for the legalization of proceeds of crime. The office was informed of the charges in May 2011. A year later, in July 2012, the issue was raised in the disciplinary council which has still not decided 16 months later.

3 other employees of the Office for Combating Economic Crimes are accused of bribery and prosecution against them began in May 2011. Two and a half years after that, the disciplinary council has not yet met, and these employees are still working.

The case of another tax officer who is accused of bribery and money laundering is also described - there was still no decision of the disciplinary council a year after the indictment in October 2012.

Data from the report of inspectors have been submitted to the Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras who requested a full disciplinary investigation of all cases, an imposition of a compulsory leave for those accused of serious crimes, as well as an investigation of the reasons for the delay in disciplinary proceedings.

In turn, Minister of Administrative Reform Kyriakos Mitsotakis emphasised that the political leadership seeks to strengthen the disciplinary liability of civil servants. He said that a more effective public sector was being gradually created concerning which citizens could be sure that there would be law enforcement and in which valuable civil servants would feel secure and would not be affected by the fortunately still few bad cases undermining the prestige of the civil servant.

It should be noted that in the summer of 2012, chief auditor of public administration Leandros Rakindzis sent the then Minister for Administrative Reform Antonis Manitakis a list of 1,301 officers against whom charges have been brought, but no disciplinary procedures have been carried out.

The inspection began in 2013, following an order by Mitsotakis for the consideration of all pending cases and coordination of disciplinary procedures.

The law of the Ministry of Administrative Reform voted in parliament includes a provision according to which even state companies included in the Agency for Private Public Property are subject to review of disciplinary violations.

Tags: Ministry of Administrative Reform government officials disciplinary procedures inspection
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