Greek court orders inquiry into use of EU′s €570 million for migrant aid | News | DW | 08.10.2018
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Greek court orders inquiry into use of EU's €570 million for migrant aid

The inquiry follows a series of right-wing press articles accusing the government of mismanagement of EU funds received in 2015 and 2016. Greece has been criticized in the past for its implementation of anti-graft laws.

Greece's Supreme Court has ordered an inquiry into the handling of EU funds intended to help the country deal with the million migrants who arrived on its shores in 2015 and 2016.

Andreas Iliopoulos, the head of refugee intake operations, was among the sources of the allegations. The concerns were given extra weight when he referred to "illegal" transactions in an interview with the daily newspaper Fileleftheros.

Iliopoulos' account was challenged by his superior, Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas, who called for Iliopoulous to resign.

Vitsas said Greece had received €570 million ($650 million) in emergency aid. Aid groups and organizations such as the UNHCR received 68 percent of the funds and the rest went to the government including the Defense Ministry, which was responsible for setting up about 40 migrant camps.

In June, the European Commission reported it had allocated over €400 million in emergency assistance to Greece from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and Internal Security Fund since the start of 2015. This was in addition to the €561 million already allocated to Greece under national programs for 2014-2020.

Ineffective laws against corruption

A report from the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in March called on Greece to do more to speed up procedures to prevent corruption by lawmakers and judges and improve transparency of party financing.

The GRECO report said more determined action was needed against delays in judicial proceedings, and recommended that Greece set clear standards of professional conduct and integrity for judges and prosecutors.

According to compliance specialist GAN Integrity, which provides guidance for international businesses, "corruption severely affects Greece's business environment.

"A common form of corruption in Greece is known as 'fakelaki,' translating to small envelopes and signifying bribes passed on to officials or other recipients to obtain some form of benefit," its website states.

While the penal code in Greece criminalizes several forms of bribery, abuse of office and money laundering, "ineffective implementation of existing laws has exacerbated corruption in both the higher and lower echelons of government," GAN said.

jm/cmk (Reuters, AFP)

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