Stiffer fines for bribe-taking in state sector

In a bid to fight corruption in the public sector, the Greek government is introducing legislation that raises the fines for taking kickbacks and bribes as much as 50 times the amount of the bribe.

The law – which also stipulates the introduction of so-called corruption prosecutors tasked with speeding up existing graft cases – is designed to combat bribe-taking across the state sector, from ministers and government officials to local administration staff.

On top of jail sentences, officials caught on graft charges will face fines up to 50 times the amount of the bribe. Sources told Kathimerini that the measures “aim to crack down on medium- and low-level corruption, meaning bribes which start from 1,000 euros and go up to sums of a few thousand euros.”

However, the same source said, the law may have little impact among lawbreaking ministers and government officials as the size of fines here will make them unlikely to be collected.

From holding 80th place in the 176 countries on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index in 2011, Greece’s global ranking fell to 94 in 2012.

More than 200 serious cases of alleged corruption in the public sector are expected to be under way at the Athens Court of First Instance as of mid-September.