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Higher bribes in the private than in the public sector

07 March 2013 / 21:03:29  GRReporter
4792 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

420 million euro cost the Greeks the petty corruption last year. Although the amount is high, it is significantly lower than in 2011 when it was 554 million euro.

According to the head of the Greek branch of the non-profit organisation "Transparency International" Costas Bakouris, this was due to the economic crisis and the reduction of household income. He stresses that the trend of rejecting the vicious practices that send millions of euro into the black hole of the informal economy is clearly distinguished in the society at present.

The head of Public Issue polls Yiannis Mavris states that the fight with corruption has advanced in the government's agenda, which is one of the main reasons for the reduced number of cases in 2012.

The public sector is holding the lead in the "competition" with the private sector as shown by the poll results. The highest number of the 12,000 participants in the poll state that they had been asked for bribes in hospitals. The interesting thing here is that the analysis of the cases shows that corruption was higher in the administration than among the medical staff. They say that most often they were asked to pay "something more" for operations in order to be included in the list of better treatment and better service.

Tax departments rank second where, however, the corruption is tending to decline. Then follow the town-planning services, the ministry of transport, especially in the issuance of driving licenses, the national insurance system IKA, municipalities, the Public Power Corporation DEI, regional governments, and hygiene and health services.

The average amount of bribes in the public sector amounted to 1,228 euro, the highest number or 39.7% of them amounting to 300 euro. In 36.3% of cases, the citizens were asked to give amounts between 300 and 1,000 euro and in 17.9% - between 1,000 and 3,000 euro.

The highest number of corruption cases in the private sector, 38%, was registered in the health sector followed by legal advisers or lawyers with 13%, banks with 4% and the automotive sector (for the annual technical inspection of cars) with 8%. The average value of bribes in the private sector was 1,442 euro.

The big difference and one of the reasons for the increased rate in comparison with the public sector was the refusal to issue receipts. This difference is highly apparent among occupations related to the provision of services: plumbers, electricians and other technical professions. Corruption in this category was 5.3% but it reaches 19.5% if we add to it the complaints about the non-issuance of receipts.

The most common victims of corruption were freelancers. They were more often men (26%) than women (17.2%) and were usually highly educated middle-aged people.

The poll also shows that the rate of corruption was the highest in Athens and Thessaloniki and in regions that are closest to government centres.

Transparency International is planning to establish a support centre for victims of corruption, where legal advisers will advise the citizens on how and where to file their complaints, and how to proceed in case they were asked to give bribes. Another initiative that Transparency International will undertake is to establish incentives to citizens who provide information about corruption cases, the so-called whistleblowers.

At the same time, it has become clear that economic inspectors visited only 13% of the individuals on the list of the 1,750 major property owners over the last two years. It is worth noting that the Greek government has imposed taxes of 49.5 million euro but it is not expected to collect more than 6.8 million euro.

However, the inspections have increased over the last five months as a result of which 113 people were inspected and taxes of 31 million euro were verified, of which, however, the tax authorities collected just one million euro.

In the 18 months that have passed since the establishment of the special teams to inspect the large property owners only 119 cases were investigated, taxes of 18,471,000 euro were confirmed and just 5,887,000 euro were collected.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor’ office in Athens has launched a criminal persecution against three former ministers who will sit on the dock for tax evasion. The data against the three former members of parliament were brought to the justice by the competent parliamentary commission investigating the property declarations of the people’s representatives.

One of them is the former deputy - minister in the governments of New Democracy, Petros Doukas, who is accused of tax evasion to the degree of felony. According to the declaration he submitted in 2010, his assets dropped by 1.1 million euro compared with 2009. In the prosecutor’s opinion, the politician has failed to provide a convincing explanation for this change. Petros Doukas states that the specific amount was transferred from a savings to an investment account.

The other two politicians - former ministers Yiannos Papantoniou from PASOK and George Voulgarakis from New Democracy, will be sued because the Lagarde List contains accounts in the names of their wives, which they failed to include in their property declarations.

The former "king" of the Greek economy, Yiannos Papantoniou, is accused of not declaring an amount of $ 2.2 million in 2008, which was paid to an account in the name of his wife Mariana Kourakou in the Swiss branch of the HSBC bank. In his testimony before the parliamentary commission, the former minister said the money belonged to his wife and she had obtained the amount during her previous marriage.

In the case of George Voulgarakis, the accusation is connected with an amount of 117,000 euro in the bank account of his wife Ekatherini Peleki in the same bank. The former minister is accused of not stating the amount in his declaration for 2007. According to the prosecutor's investigation, the specific bank account belongs to an offshore company and the former minister's wife is its co-holder.

In both cases, the degree of the charges is criminal offenses.

Tags: SocietyCorruptionPoliticsFormer ministersJusticeTax evasion
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