While musing on his 11-year career as the man charged with tackling corruption in the Greek civil service, general inspector of public administration Leandros Rakintzis identified the lack of political will as the key weakness in combating graft.
Speaking during a discussion at the Ianos book store in central Athens on Wednesday night, Rakintzis said governments have to show greater determination to reduce corruption.
“All the governments proclaim they want to stamp out corruption and do ‘whatever it takes,’ but I have yet to see anyone do this,” he said.
Rakintzis also said that practical steps, such as codifying Greece’s labyrinthine legislation, would help. He noted that since the modern Greek state was founded, it had passed 17,500 laws and issued 120,000 circulars.
The official put the annual cost of corruption in Greece at 33 billion euros and joked that if it was stamped out, the country could erase its public debt in a decade.
Rakintzis mentioned a few of the tragicomic instances of blatant graft or nepotism that he has encountered during his tenure, such as the case of a 93-year-old being appointed legal adviser to a social security foundation or that of a mayor receiving 10 million euros in European funding for his municipality and depositing the same amount in a Swiss account in his own name.
He said that the majority of violations have been found in zoning, municipal and healthcare authorities.