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Prosecutor raises charges against Greek FM officials for “illegal funding” of US-based Think-Tank

Corruption prosecutors in action raised felony charges former officials of the Greek Foreign Ministry and submitted the relevant file also to Parliament to investigate possible responsibility of former Foreign Minister George Papandreou. The charges refer to what it seems to be “illegal” funding to a foreign Non-governmental organization, an American one and its branch in Belgrade, Serbia.

According to Greek media,

The charges refer to the financing of US think tank “East West Institute” and its branch in Belgrade, Serbia in the years 2001 and 2002.

The Greek Foreign Ministry has funded the institute with 609,000 USD.

According to the prosecutors’ documents, the total funding was supposed to be $900,000 that would be disbursed in three equal annual installments during the years 2001-2003. Disbursement in two installments totaling $609,000 were made in 2001 (109,000 USD) and 2002 (500,000 USD), while there was an attempt to make the third installment of $300,000 in 2003. However the 3. installment was not given as it did not get approved via a ministerial degree.

The prosecutor’s investigation revealed that the delivery of the money was made in cash through the Greek Diplomatic Representation in Serbia, which took charge of payments without being put into account essential elements for financing.

The money came reportedly from funds of the Foreign Ministry intended to cover expenses of foreign countries/foreign governments to tackle issue like ‘natural disasters, war, important political and other issues. The amounts were justified as operations within the framework of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. The file highlighted that the funding was given to a foreign NGO.

Prosecutor’s investigation revealed also that the controversial funding in question  “served the maintenance costs of the NGO office in Belgrade, staff payroll, movement and participation of staff in conferences and workshops and therefore it did not serve any national interest.”

Corruption Prosecutor Eleni Raikou has brought charges against four officials of the Foreign Ministry during the period in question which are: the Director General of International Development Cooperation (Hellenic Aid) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director of B5 Directorate for Development Policy, the Deputy General Manager Hellenic Aid and the General Secretary for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation.

The prosecutor’s file has been submitted to the Greek Parliament that has to investigate possible responsibility of the former Foreign Minister and one of the former Deputy Foreign Ministers.

It is quite possible that the crimes have been written-off by now due to the time limitations of ex ministers and prime ministers.

The damage for the Public Administration is considered to be 150,000 euro but I believe this is a general amount of ‘damage’ set by the Greek State.

It is not the first time, Greek Foreign Ministry officials have to give explanations to justice about “the what it seems illegal funding of NGOs.” A demining Greek NGO was funded with 9 million euro for operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Lebanon. The trial is ongoing.

As in this case, the file of the funding was not complete and there was not supervising body assigned to follow up.

The Greek Funding Party

There is a broader prosecutors’ investigation about the funding of NGOs by the Greek Foreign Ministry and other ministries during the years 2000-2010. According to a letter sent by the Greek Foreign Ministry Department for International Development in March 2015 to investigative magazine HOT DOC,

“the Foreign Ministry funded 780 programs of 176 NGOs that have received a total of €115,388,814  between the years 2000 and 2010 and that 6,858,749 euro have been given back.”

The letter has been signed by Ambassador Nikos Vamvounakis who has been struggling against the illegal funding of NGOs for several years. He is now General Director of the Department. It needed the change in the Foreign Ministry leadership to facilitate investigation about the NGO funding party.

The total number of NGOs funded also by other ministries is estimated to be 35,000.  Many of these NGOs were allegedly kind of family businesses where ministers would channel funds to their friends.

Just in case one wonders, where did the money in poor but honest Greece go…

PS Almost a million euro to maintain offices and educate staff of a US-based non-profit think Tank in a third country? Glad we could help 🙂

Now it’s a common secret here about the names of the FM officials involved… However, the media, citing the report of the Athens News Agency have not published them yet. Therefore… shhhhh.

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4 comments

  1. I know personally of one very large funding of a US “thinktank” financed by the Foreign Ministry in 2003 – all done in secret supposedly to support the Greek presidency of the EU. Of course, it did no such thing — just wasted money. Some of the money did go to Pasok members though (as did all research money that came out of ministries): the ministers involved always demanded that Pasok members be paid for “research” when they did nothing at all. The investigators might also look at the Interior Ministry…

    • @Guest(xenos) what are these accusations?

      • I prefer not to give the details of how Greece financed research. Nearly all of Pasok and ND hate my guts as it is, for my incorruptibility and refusal to conform to their diktat. (And don’t forget how many of Pasok are still running the country).

  2. East West is an American NGO with an horrendous track record, whose sole purpose is to destabilize and overthrow the governments of the countries it is located in. Think Nuland & Ukraine. And we, Greece, funded that? Against our traditional Serbian allies??! or did we fuinde it on condition East West was kept out of Greece?? And what does that say about our “friends” in Washington??