Greece Eyes Tough Corruption Penalties

ATHENS – Greece’s stepped-up crackdown on wrongdoing in the public sector could be accompanied by stiffer penalties for those convicted of corruption-related crimes – and wouldn’t exempt even the Prime Minister or President.

A bill attacking graft and other similar crimes reportedly includes prison terms of more than five years and fines of up to 150,000 euros ($206,200) for offenders while offering protection to whistleblowers, including against witness intimidation or possible revenge attacks.

The Justice Ministry legislation, which was submitted for public consultation on Feb. 24 and is to be discussed until March 24, said no one in public office would be exempt, although it wasn’t explained how that would affect the immunity given to Members of Parliament and ministers while they are in duty.

The bill also provides more lenient treatment for those implicated in scandals who provide information critical to the prosecution of wider cases and comes as investigators are looking into a new host of bribery incidents at the Defense Ministry and bad loan schemes at state banks.

The same legislation aims to crack down on cases of corruption in the private sector though the penalties foreseen are more lenient than those for public sector officials found guilty of graft.