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Greek Public & Private Sector: Corruption, Tax Evasion and Impunity Still Alive and Kicking

Health sector and tax authorities are the masters in corruption according to a report issued by Leandros Rakitzis, Greece’s public administration inspector, the country’s watchdog on corruption in the public services. No, the crisis did not lowered corruption, just the price of it.

“While the crisis has not reduced the corruption itself, it has reduced the price of corruption,” Rakintzis told Skai TV after publishing his annual report for the year 2011. “They (civil servants) have lowered their price,” Rakitzis found out.

Out of 1,403 corruption cases examined, 393 were referred to prosecutors. Four out of ten case were investigated after ocmplaints by citiznes. The worst offenders were officials working at the tax authority as well as high ranking civil servants with many years of work experience, the report found.

Rakintzis said that the majority of corruption cases concern local government officials, and employees in the health sector, at social security funds and town planning offices.

Nice Try…

In one incident, a tax office official gave her fiance proof of tax clearance even though he never submitted his tax return and had arrears amounting to 178,863 euros.

In another case, a Foreign Ministry official issued visas without carrying out necessary checks, redeeming the visa with an additional tax-free income.

A civil servant was caught transporting illegal immigrants with his vehicle. His punishment were salaries of three months/

However Leanrdos Rakitzis repeated his complaint that some civil servants get away with a soft punishment like a suspension from work only for a couple of months.

He said that disciplinary committees issued some 1,900 decisions last year but Rakintzis appealed against 186 of these because he felt the punishment was not harsh enough.

In one case, an employee at the OAED Manpower Organization who was illegally securing unemployment benefits for his sister and brother-in-law but was only suspended from duty for four months.

“The struggle against corruption is not easy and demands persistent political will,” Rakitzis wrote in his report.

Impunity

As the economic situation of Greeks deteriorates and it will continuing doing so with hikes in regular and emergency taxes and income decreases for citizens and civil servants, corruption is still alive and kicking. One just has to recall the many scandals that broke out in 2012 with fake blinds, fake disabled and fake “whatevers” exploiting public money and social benefits, after state doctors confirmed the alleged disabilities.

And yet. The government policy on perjurer civil servants seems to remain the same: make public the scandal for the justice-hungry Greeks, accompanied by flamboyant announcements and assurances that “the knife will hit the bone.” And then nothing. No dismissal, no confiscation.

 The civil servants committing the corruption crimes are found keep silently working at their old work places.

Fake Blinds & Clever Doctors

Characteristic for this practice are the cases of doctors on the island of Chios and Zakynthos who massively approved fake blind confirmations and allowed hundreds of corrupt citizens to enjoy social benefits.

Just a couple of months after the scandals broke out, the doctors are still on duty. None the less because of the labyrinth corridors of the Greek bureaucracy, that assigns more ministries to be responsible for the several public administration sectors.

When asked as to why the doctors are still working, Health Minister Andreas Lykouretzos told Capital gr, that is “up to the responsibility of the Ministry for Labour, Social Insurance and Benefits to decide.” 

Tax Evasion

At the same time, reports but also personal experience about businessmen who still try to evade taxes by not issuing receipts are almost on a daily basis.

Only recently Financial Crimes Units (SDOE) of the Finance Ministry were stunned to find out that the majority of  businessmen in favorite tourist destinations, the Greek islands, did not bother at all to issue receipts therefore bypassing giving the state at least the 23% Value Added Tax.

SDOE found that seven out of ten businesses had committed tax evasions. In inspections conducted 6-23 July 2012, SDOE carried out 1,410 tax controls. 805 ‘offenders’ had committed 22,435 tax offences.

However hiding the V.A.T. and the revenues from the tax office does not always mean that it is for the benefit of the customer. I keep hearing complains by friends who pay full price at restaurants or bars and get no receipt – and no price reduction.

What if the state has no money… Civil servant continue to establish their own private ‘businesses’ within the publice services knowing they won’t get punished. Private businessmen continue to evade taxes knowing nobody goes to prison for this or that they can settle the fine with a bribe-envelope (fakelaki).

I think we are trapped into a vicious circle: one citizens tries to rob another, they all together try to rob the state and the state tries to rob all citizens from the money the majority of them does not have. 

This is austerity in moral values, I’m afraid.

A project “Re-Install Greece” is urgently needed here. 

 

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11 comments

  1. This is why the troika should not give one euro until all reforms are put into place. The circus will continue until a grass roots overhaul is done to the bureaucracy of this country.

  2. And all that will do is make sure that the buck is passed to those who can least afford it and are most vulnerable. More wage cuts, more pension cuts, more health and social care cuts ( is there anything left to cut?)…
    the problem is the same as anywhere else. It is twofold

    – The rot goes all the way to the top. And I mean the top in Brussels and Berlin. To get an idea of what I mean, just go and find out why a in 2000 Wolfgang Schauble was replaced as top dog in the CDU by none other that Angela Merkel. It involves a lot of money and a armsdealer called KarlHeinz Schreiber, and…
    – The whole system needs a top to bottom, 100% cul. But the execution of the cul is happily left to the very same people that need to be culled. Any takers on a bet on how much culling is going to happen?

    It’s like asking Turkeys to vote for Xmas…

  3. When one experiences, hears, sees these kind of things still happening in Greece. One has to understand that although there are millions who are severely suffering in Greece. Nothing has changed it is just a big circus that is going to cost us our people and land.

    The government although new, is nothing but the same old.

    Where are the Castro’s and Che’s of Greece. A real revolution is needed and these criminals should be rounded up and put into small cells 10 to a cell and only one small toilet and washbasin within. Their properties confiscated.

    One also has to think, why is there not more cameras in public offices to watch the public servants and recorders to record them. With the available technology today that should not be a problem.

  4. Have you ever been to Cuba? I don’t think the Greeks want a Castro, and as for Che, they will gladly wear his face on a t-shirt, but that’s where the romance ends. If you want to see the polarity of classes, visit Cuba, you will be the one living as a bourgeoisie, and the Cubans that will be your servants will be the lucky ones. The rest live in the squalor of the revolution.

  5. Ideally yes, but reality and idealism tend to be mutually exclusive. Democracy is a practical solution, not an ideal one, but it’s the least destructive. What you are proposing will never happen in a democracy.

  6. Meaning, the cul will never happen, because democracy has gone from a practical solution to a solution for those who can pay for it. It was sold out the day we started looking at politicians as people who need to be paid for their “services” (and are allowed to set their own wages, what lunacy!!!)… the solution is very, very simple.
    Pay them a bonus after they have delivered the goods, not a second sooner. “No Cure, No Pay”. Meanwhile, pay them what everybody else gets, minimum wage, so they stay firmly in touch with reality.
    The politicians in parliament anywhere, not just in Greece happily forget that they are not there to bring their parochial politics onto the national if not international stage. They are there to legislate for the nation. I’m sure there will be similar cases in Greece, I am familiar with one case of an Irish parliamentarian who during 1 year of parliament sittings managed to attend for the grand total of 12 days. And then only because he was hauled in to vote with the rest of the herd, as told to do so by the party leader. He guaranteed had no idea what he was voting for.
    They should not be allowed to hold “contituency offices” etc in their area while SERVING in parliament. Nothing to do with them anymore.
    They should also not be allowed to stand for more than 2 elections, same as the US president. Irrespective of how long government actually lasts. 2 elections. See the job for what it is, a service to the nation instead of just another way to line the back pocket.
    These simple measures would indeed not cure the disease, but it would remove an awful lot of the symptoms!
    But people managed to give the whole concept of democracy into the hands of a bunch of gangsters, and are now paying the price for it. the same people can put an end to that.

  7. Does it mean you prefer, Venizelos or perhaps Samaras, or even Papandreou or Karamanlis?

    If not one of the above, then who is suitable as a leader, who cares only for the people and the country and not for his or her pockets.

    Who?

  8. If you believe this is an either/or situation, then logically speaking the very same reasoning applies to Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, and everybody else, because the situation is similar if not identical.
    So let’s just hand the lot over to some central power that is omni-present, all-powerful, infallible, uniformed and cannot be questioned. What does history teach us about such power? And what are the puppet masters in Brussels/Berlin trying to do?
    So what is the solution then? Reboot democracy, urgently. And stop treating politics and politicians as people who have power. They only reason they have power is because we allow them to have it. A simple system of accountability to the electorate would go a very long, if not all the way, to change this permanently.
    Accountability is totally incompatible with uniformed, authoritarian and centralized rule.

  9. Government Corruption

    The Bible talks of not seeing corruption, and abiding by mans law.