ECONOMY

War on bribery nets 95

The Finance Ministry yesterday issued a name-and-shame list of 95 tax and customs employees caught for taking bribes and participating in smuggling, underlining its new, tough policy against corruption in the public sector. Calling it a key priority, the ministry said it was «determined to stamp out similar cases with the goal of protecting the State’s and taxpayers’ interest and at the same time defend honest employees.» Corruption in the public sector came to the forefront last month with an outburst by Supreme Court prosecutor Evangelos Kroustallakis. Saying that corruption among civil servants was fast becoming normal behavior, he urged a crusade against graft. Displaying their support for Kroustallakis, other Supreme Court prosecutors suggested measures to tackle the problem, including stricter penalties and tougher legislation. The government responded by appointing Greece’s first general inspector for public administration, retired judge Constanstinos Dafermos. It also urged Kroustallakis to name a special prosecutor to handle corruption cases. Opposition party New Democracy launched a broadside against Prime Minister Costas Simitis, criticizing the lack of government efforts against graft and the political framework allowing it to flourish. Of the 95 offenders on the list, 39 were tax officers caught for allegedly taking bribes or neglecting their duties. Eleven currently face court and disciplinary charges, 13 have been suspended from their duties and 15 sacked from the service. Four inspectors caught trying to cover up the VAT scandal involving northern Greek businesses will be prosecuted for the offense. The list also included 52 customs officers accused of taking part in smuggling and accepting bribes. Some have been suspended and others fired from their posts. Two will be prosecuted.