Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not always implement the law effectively. Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Although observers expressed concern over perceived high levels of official corruption, the Directorate for Internal Affairs of the Hellenic Police reported an 8.5 percent reduction in the number of corruption-related complaints filed in 2017 compared to 2016. Permanent and ad hoc government entities charged with combating corruption were understaffed and underfinanced.

Corruption: Reports of official corruption continued. On May 3, an appeals court sentenced and fined 17 defendants, including former officials of the Ministry of Defense, for receiving kickbacks for purchasing an electronic simulation system for the army. The court sentenced them to 10-16 years in prison and levied a total fine of 48.5 million euros ($55.8 million).

On May 11, an appeals court upheld the conviction of a former minister of transport for accepting a bribe from a foreign company, but allowed him to pay a fine instead of serving jail time.

The European Union (EU) announced October 4 that the European Antifraud Agency (OLAF) was investigating allegations that the Greek Defense Ministry mismanaged 52 million euros ($59.8 million) in EU funding for catering at refugee sites. On October 8, Greek Supreme Court Prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou ordered a domestic inquiry into allegations that the government mismanaged EU migration funding.

On October 24, media reported on a unanimous decision by the prosecutor and investigative magistrate to hold former defense minister Yannos Papantoniou and his wife in pretrial detention for allegedly accepting more than 2.8 million Swiss francs in kickbacks for defense procurements in 2003.

The government intensified efforts to combat tax evasion by increasing inspections and crosschecks among various authorities; however, media reported allegations of tax officials complicit in individual and corporate tax evasion.

Financial Disclosure: The law requires income and asset disclosure by appointed and elected officials, including private sector employees, such as journalists and heads of government-funded NGOs. Several agencies are mandated to monitor and verify disclosures, including the General Inspectorate for Public Administration, the police internal affairs bureau, the Piraeus appeals prosecutor, and an independent permanent parliamentary committee. Declarations were made publicly available, albeit with delays. The law provides for administrative and criminal sanctions for noncompliance. Penalties range from two to 10 years’ imprisonment and fines of from 10,000 to one million euros ($11,500 to $1.15 million).

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) reported “mixed praise with criticism regarding Greek efforts to fight corruption in both the legislative and judicial branches of government.” GRECO commended the government for increasing transparency by broadening the scope for income, assets, and interest declaration by members of parliament. GRECO noted that the government did not comply with a recommendation for greater transparency in political party financing.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future