NGO officials face crime charges over funds

NGO officials face crime charges over funds

Chief corruption prosecutor Eleni Raikou on Friday issued criminal charges of breach of faith against high-ranking officials who served at the Foreign Ministry in early 2000 and were responsible for approving state funding to nongovernmental organizations.

The investigation that led to the charges concerned a US-based think tank called the EastWest Institute, which was active in Serbia and received funding worth 900,000 euros in the 2001-03 period. A preliminary probe has allegedly uncovered evidence that the money was disbursed without going through the proper channels to ensure that the organization met the necessary criteria.

The case file was forwarded to Parliament in a largely symbolic move as the statute of limitations relating to charges against ministers has expired, meaning that the foreign minister at the time, George Papandreou, and his deputy are immune from prosecution.

Another probe into the alleged misuse of millions of euros in state funds by a nongovernment organization called the International Mine Initiative led to eight people being indicted earlier this year. The NGO had undertaken demining operations in Bosnia, Iraq and Lebanon and is alleged to have received more than 9 million euros illegally between 2000 and 2004.

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