Inspector finds graft on wane

The man responsible for tackling corruption in the civil service said Tuesday that public sector graft has decreased, most probably as result of the economic crisis.

Public administration inspector Leandros Rakintzis presented his annual report on the investigations he has carried out. According to the results from 2011, the amount of bribes being paid and the overall level of corruption has fallen considerably.

?For example, big cases of graft at town planning offices have been reduced because there are not many people who are prepared to pay large bribes to build an extra floor on their property illegally,? he told journalists during Tuesday?s presentation

?Even the amounts that are paid in ?fakelakia? [small envelopes] at hospitals have been substantially reduced,? added Rakintzis.

The inspector said that he and his team investigated 1,361 cases last year. In 2009, more than 4,000 cases were probed. Almost 45 percent had to do with financial issues, a third with incidents relating to the actions of municipalities and 12.5 percent related to building and environmental matters. Four in 10 of the investigations were launched as a result of complaints by citizens.

Rakintzis said that the majority of corruption cases concern local government officials, and employees in the health sector, at social security funds and town planning offices.

The public inspector, however, repeated his complaint about some civil servants being let off lightly after they are found to have offended. He said that disciplinary committees issued some 1,900 decisions last year but Rakintzis appealed against 186 of these because he felt the punishment was not harsh enough.

He gave the example of an employee at the OAED Manpower Organization who was illegally securing unemployment benefits for his sister and brother-in-law but was only suspended from duty for four months. A tax office employee was only suspended for three months after issuing a tax clearance statement for her boyfriend even though he owed 170,000 euros to the state.

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