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Corrupt blackmailing civil servants

Ring of corrupt civil servants bled investors dry to facilitate their projects, asking for kickbacks to process projects.

A ring of corruption had been set up up by employees of the private investment bureau of the development ministry and for seven years abused prospective investors after forcing them to hand over money, in order to give the green light for funding they rightfully deserved.

The activities of the ring were spotted by the general inspector of public administration Leandros Rakintzis, and as is mentioned in the findings of his team, a handful of civil servants were exploiting prospective investors.

In March 2012, four of the staff of the specific bureau had been arrested red handed taking bribes in order to facilitate an EU subsidy that was pending since 2009. Despite measures taken by the political leadership of the ministry, but rooting out the weeds from the bureau has proven impossible.

The findings of Mr. Rakintzis and his team were a result of the arrests in 2012. The arrests were followed by inspections by five inspectors that delved into processes for granting subsidies between half and thirty million euros in the period 2005 - 2012.

The findings showed that the specific employees had undertaken to oversee over twice the average case load, under the double authority of inspecting and approving the projects to be funded. They delayed funding in 78% of cases for 6 to 54 months, which inspectors attribute to deliberate actions and not to work load, as some requests were finished without even the requisite paperwork.

Priorities were arbitrary showing that some projects were given the go-ahead through favoritism. In fact 50% of investment projects were examined by a closed core of 30-40 employees, while the bureau employed 322 persons. While most staff were in charge of checking into up to 50 projects, the “inner circle” were responsible for over 100 each. The checks into the legitimacy of the paperwork, or letters of credit, was almost nonexistent, while after funding disbursement checks were suspended or simply papered over.