Kid’s Hospital Chief Faces Bribery Charge

ATHENS – With corruption remaining a runaway problem during a crushing economic crisis despite repeated government crackdowns, Greek police said they have arrested the President of Aglaia Kyriakou Children’s Hospital in Athens and one other suspect on suspicion of demanding a bribe from a supplier.

Police officers arrested Haris Tombouloglou, a member of the ruling New Democracy party, on Dec. 24. He had 25,000 euros ($34,200) in marked banknotes in his possession.

Authorities said that Tombouloglou had demanded the money from a private firm that at the beginning of the year had won a bid for a 200,000 euro ($273,600) program to run a program combating obesity among children.

The contract, however, was never fulfilled. A few days ago, a person claiming to represent the hospital allegedly contacted the firm and demanded an under-the-table payment so the program could proceed, the newspaper Kathimerini reported.

The company’s representatives contacted the police and a sting operation was set up. The money was paid to a middleman but most of it was later found in the hospital President’s possession. The alleged intermediary has also been arrested.

Tombouloglou had been a member of New Democracy for a number of years and had stood as a party candidate in elections. After his arrest, he was expelled from the party.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the party chief, said last week that no leniency would be shown to any public official or Member of Parliament charged with crimes after an ex-minister was arrested on charges of driving an uninsured car with fake plates and not having a license.