NEWS

Bureaucrats, plutocrats

At least 130 civil servants, many of whom serve in the Public Works Ministry, have been found to own inexplicably high bank assets given their work status and salaries, following a routine investigation the results of which have been forwarded to an Athens prosecutor. All were found to have bank deposits of over 100 million drachmas. The list, which resulted from random checks on 2,500 civil servants based on their obligatory annual funds-source (pothen esches) declarations, included a young employee in the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Ministry’s Public Works department, whose account totaled 150 million drachmas after six years of service. Another 27 members of the same department appeared on the list, which was compiled by the Public Administration Inspectorate. The probe also uncovered a series of salient irregularities – mainly concerning illegal construction of villas and hotels – involving the town planning department on the Ionian island of Zakynthos. The overwhelming majority of civil servants with inexplicably high bank assets are employed in departments that have extensive dealings with the public or with state contractors and who, apart from the Public Works Ministry, chiefly work for the ministries of Health, Commerce and Development. Most of the civil servants on the list used the 1999 boom on the Athens stock market to explain their assets. But they were unable to supply any documentary evidence to support this claim. Inspectorate officials said that the average civil servant could be assumed to be able to save up to 1.5 million drachmas a year based on his salary, and taking possible investments into account. Other civil servants said they had accumulated assets through the sale of real estate, but only five percent of those scrutinized were able to demonstrate the veracity of their claims through contracts. All state employees on the list will now be subject to an administrative investigation and, if found guilty of corruption, face penalties that lead to dismissal. So far, state disciplinary boards have only sacked 105 civil servants for corruption, while imposing lesser penalties on another 598. Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis told Kathimerini that an effort was being made to stamp out corruption. Incidents of illegal transactions or corruption will be confronted by simplifying administrative procedures and abolishing organizational methods and practices that allow mediation (between citizens and state employees) and provide a breeding ground for corruption. Boy’s body found. Rescue workers on Saturday found the drowned body of nine-year-old Yiannis Antonopoulos who disappeared with his father when their car was swept away by the Diakonaris River after it broke its banks near Patras last Sunday. The boy’s body was found off the coast of Araxos in the northwestern Peloponnese, about 26 kilometers from Patras. The boy’s father, Alexios Antonopoulos, 53, was found on Friday off the Lakopetra, 20 kilometers west of Patras. The boy’s mother had managed to escape from the car. Father and son were buried in Patras’s first cemetery yesterday.