ECONOMY

Study on rampant graft

Kickbacks in the sector of technical studies and the construction of public projects in Greece are estimated to amount to 300 million euros annually, according to a study by National Technical University of Athens Emeritus Professor Theodoros Tassios. The study will be officially presented at a conference of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE), April 19-21, but parts of it were revealed by TEE President Yiannis Alavanos at a press briefing yesterday. Alavanos notes that the corruption in the sector includes engineers and various middlemen, but also «persons who have a guiding role in the assignment of projects, including politicians.» According to sources, the study, which is expected to cause an uproar, is based on personal interviews, both with senior officials of construction firms and political figures who have served in key positions in the assignment of projects. Former PASOK public works minister and head of the TEE conference organizers Evangelos Kouloumbis went as far as to say that «the sum referred to in the study may be an underestimate.» Alavanos also said other reports to be presented at the conference refer to «the phenomena of blackmail used by media in public project cases.» He proposed that legal provisions attempting to counter such phenomena, such as the recently passed «basic shareholder» law, which has elicited the opposition of the European Commission, should focus on the ownership of media rather than that of construction firms.