More than 6,000 NGOs under scrutiny by financial investigators

More than 6,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are being scrutinized by financial investigators following allegations of widespread misuse of public funds.

Two major cases are already in the hands of prosecutors. Fifteen suspects are facing corruption charges in connection with the Circle of Patmos, a group organizing events linking religious and environmental issues, which is suspected of siphoning off 9.5 million euros in state funds.

The second NGO, called the International Mine Initiative (IMI), is alleged to have defrauded the state of 9 million euros between 2000 and 2004. The organization was set up to remove land mines in Bosnia, Lebanon and Iraq, but it is uncertain how many of these projects were actually completed. The NGO’s former director, Costas Tzevelekos, also publisher of the pro-PASOK Exormisi weekly, is in custody awaiting trial on charges of fraud and embezzlement. Authorities are investigating another 7 suspects, most prominently Alex Rondos, a former adviser to George Papandreou at the Foreign Ministry.

Rondos, currently EU special representative for the Horn of Africa, last week appeared before a magistrate in Athens and said he was willing to cooperate with investigators.