Tourism scam uncovered

Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos yesterday dispatched to an appeals court prosecutor a report compiled by the financial crimes squad (SDOE) implicating nine officials and employees of the Greek National Tourism Organization in losing the GNTO some 5.5 million euros between 2006 and 2009. According to the report, the losses were incurred by the GNTO’s state-subsidized social tourism program which the officials and employees are alleged to have exploited by overissuing coupons. In 2006 alone, the body issued more than 22,900 coupons, according to the report, compared to the 2,000 foreseen by official decisions. This resulted in an additional financial burden on the organization of 1.75 million euros for that year. The report also draws attention to the issuing of bogus coupons by hotels – a practice that GNTO officials are alleged to have noticed but failed to follow up on.