NEWS

Hotline for corruption claims

People who believe they have witnessed incidents of mismanagement or corruption at a public service office will now be able to call the telephone hotline 1564 to report these cases for investigation, the Interior Ministry said yesterday. According to a new initiative launched by Deputy Interior Minister Apostolos Andreoulakos, anyone who wishes to register a complaint can call the 24-hour hotline and brief a staff member about their experience. Their complaint will then be forwarded electronically to a special department of public administration inspectors who will investigate the claim. This is the first move of its kind in Greece, where corruption in the civil service has long been regarded as a problem that needs to be tackled. In a related development, officials in Attica yesterday claimed to have detected widespread corruption in the private sector. Checks on firms by Attica’s regional Special Investigations Service in September and October revealed that 42 percent were guilty of tax evasion or illegal trade. Checks on 2,848 firms linked 1,187 of these to violations. A total of 11,149 violations were recorded for this two-month period. The service also found evidence of nearly 20 million euros in VAT evasion and issued 102.8 million euros in fines for bogus receipts. A total of 30.5 million euros’ worth of such receipts were seized from 80 firms, including some that are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange. Inspectors also established that a fuel trading company produced a large number of bogus documents to justify the allegedly illegal acquisition of 6.6 tons of fuel oil. In this case, inspectors detected 1.4 million euros in customs charge transgressions and 2.1 million euros in tax violations. The heads of the company, which was not named, have been indicted to appear before a prosecutor.