OPINION

Corruption: Case unsolved

Bribes allegedly paid by Siemens to Greek politicians to secure state contracts have been the focus of the political agenda, but unfortunately, no specific conclusions have yet been drawn nor any real progress made regarding the payments to politicians and political parties. All too often in such affairs, public opinion is outraged for a while, several people are the butt of accusations, and then the whole case is filed away – both literally and figuratively. Time is a great healer and such cases are generally forgotten, apart from one or two salacious details enjoyed in cafe conversations. In effect therefore, corruption has become a structural element of political life. Corruption runs deep and wide, across the board, from the lowest civil servant dealing with the public, to the highest echelons, even of the judiciary and the Church, as we saw recently, extending also to politicians and political parties. And the phenomenon is by no means confined to the public sector. In any bribe, there is a recipient but also a giver. Businesses «finance» politicians and other public officials, distort free competition, set up monopolies and oligopolies, set prices and deceive customers, the market and society. Of course business owners are not elected, do not take an oath and are not directly answerable to society. So are they innocent? Certainly not. There is such a thing as social responsibility, business ethnics and personal integrity. Yet while elected public figures are supposed to be accountable, only very rarely do they face the music. Most cases, as already noted, are simply filed away. The system protects the institutions by protecting its members, sacrificing very few of them in order to pay lip service to the public – nearly always it is the most unimportant figures who are sacrificed. And this is precisely what is happening now. The real culprits will remain in the shadows, under a cloud of suspicion. And meanwhile, the institutions are falling into decay.