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Society

Five Greek Ex- National Health Center Workers Face Fraud Charges

February 28, 2019

ATHENS – A corruption prosecutor has charged  five former high-ranking employees of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) with breach of faith and fraud over 74 alleged unlawful recruited hirings.

That comes under laws allowing charges for wrongdoing that bring losses to the state, with the accusations saying the officials were involved from 2010-15 and include a former chief of the agency who wasn’t named.

The case file is the second for unlawful hirings, following one in June, 2018 for 24 positions allegedly authorized by the same people facing the current charges. The charges were brought after a report from public administration inspectors.

In April, 2017, Parliament voted to look into a series of alleged health care scandals going back more than 20 years but excluded the current coalition of the Radical Left SYRIZA

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras then referred to “clouds gathering over the health sector… one scandal after another,” pointing to the case of KEELPNO for allegedly using 1.2 million euros ($1.29 million) to advertise when critics said it could have been done for free.

In December, 2015, KEELPNO hit back at a report by public health service inspectors which claimed that some of the center’s state funding was mismanaged with unjustifiable sums spent on media campaigns.

In a letter to the Health Ministry, KEELPNO claimed the report contained “expedient, not legitimate criticism” and did not include the center’s own observations.

The report, which was handed to prosecutors, found that 1.5 million euros ($1.71 million) spent by KEELPNO on campaigns from 2012-14 comprised “social messages” that could have been aired for free. It also noted that some of the campaigns, for cancer and generic drugs, did not fall within the agency’s authority.

KEELPNO said it has been the competent authority for public awareness on chronic diseases including cancer since 2005 and few campaigns are publicized without cost and that free announcements are put on air when very few people are watching or listening.

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