NEWS

Public servants face trial

More than 350 employees at tax and town-planning offices as well as other public sector employees could face trial, it was revealed yesterday, after a state inspector discovered evidence suggesting that they have failed to adequately explain their incomes. The country’s general inspector of public administration, Leandros Rakintzis, has referred 354 tax and town-planning office workers to a prosecutor after finding that they had failed to submit declarations of source of wealth – «pothen esches» in Greek – along with their tax papers. He has also asked judges to give him the right to examine the bank accounts of another 30 civil servants after discovering that the size of their incomes could not justify their wealth or the property that they owned. According to Rakintzis, these bureaucrats have committed serious disciplinary as well as criminal offenses, including embezzlement. Rakintzis is also thought to be investigating some 200 more tax and town-planning office employees on suspicion of committing serious offenses. The inspector said that anyone found not to have submitted a pothen esches form would be charged with breach of duty as well as breaking the law. They could also face immediate suspension. It is the first time that anti-corruption laws have been applied on such a scale to public servants. Rakintzis compiles an annual report on graft in public administration and his investigations usually lead to 300-500 cases being referred to a prosecutor each year. The inspector said that about 6,500 public sector workers as well as judges and MPs are required to disclose and explain their income under the law. Rakintzis has in the past identified town-planning offices as being a major source of corruption in the public system. A survey carried out last month by Public Issue on behalf of corruption watchdog Transparency International found that Greeks paid 750 million euros a year in bribes. Of this, some 60 percent were paid to state hospitals, tax departments and town-planning offices.