NEWS

Greece tops EU corruption list

Despite a raft of reforms that have been implemented by the government over the past few months, including a crackdown on tax evasion and on graft in the public sector, Greece is still perceived as the most corrupt state in the 27-member European Union, according to this year’s corruption index published by Transparency International. The index shows that Greece has fallen seven places to 78th out of the 180 countries surveyed, seven spots below the 71st place it shared last year with Bulgaria and Romania. Greece, which now shares its ranking with China, Colombia, Peru, Serbia, Thailand and Lesotho, is seen as more corrupt than Rwanda, Botswana and Namibia. The development comes just a few months after the government launched a campaign against corruption which, according to Prime Minister George Papandreou, had been instrumental in bringing about Greece’s debt crisis. Transparency International’s corruption perception index is composed by the watchdog on the basis of data drawn from 13 different surveys conducted between January 2009 and September 2010. Commenting on Greece’s slide to 78th place on the index, the president of Transparency’s Athens office, Costas Bakouris, said the government was giving the wrong message by pushing through deep-reaching reforms while offering an amnesty to tax offenders and seeking to legitimize thousands of properties that have been illegally built or extended. «The solution is to target citizens and businesses that have not fulfilled their obligations to the state and to punish them as an example,» Bakouris said.