Police probe 6,000 NGOs as funding scandal escalates

The Financial Police is investigating some 6,000 nongovernmental organizations for their management of state funding, Kathimerini has learned, as a scandal involving a de-mining NGO snowballed into a political issue on Tuesday.

The probe is focusing on NGOs that secured amounts in excess of 5 million euros, Kathimerini understands, while two of the cases are now in the hands of prosecutors. The two cases involve an NGO called the Circle of Patmos, a group organizing events linking religious and environmental issues which is alleged to have benefited from 9.5 million euros in state funding.

The second NGO is the International De-mining Center, believed to have defrauded the Greek state of 9 million euros between 2000 and 2004. The center’s leader, Costas Tzevelekos, has been detained on charges of fraud, and another seven people, including three serving Greek diplomats, have been charged in the case. One of the diplomats, Alex Rondos, a one-time adviser to former Socialist Premier George Papandreou, is one of the three.

In statements to Ethnos newspaper on Tuesday, he expressed surprise at the charges, saying he had followed procedures while at the Foreign Ministry, though he said they were “problematical and inadequate.”

Papandreou’s office also issued a statement, claiming that regulations for state funding to NGOs were put in place during his term as PM and accusing certain media of trying to “indirectly implicate” him in the scandal.