Greek police investigate 32 politicians for corruption

Reuters News

9/20/2012 9:34:00 AM - Reuters News

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police suspect 32 politicians of having acquired ill-gotten wealth, the finance ministry said on Thursday, adding fuel to popular frustration with the country's rulers as they discuss a new round of austerity with international lenders.

Financial crimes squad SDOE is investigating acting and former politicians, mayors and public servants, finance minister Yannis Stournaras said in a written response to a lawmaker's query in parliament.

"Thirty-two individuals in politics are currently being investigated," Stournaras said, adding SDOE was checking if their assets were in line with their declared income.

He did not reveal any names.

Under popular pressure to justify harsh austerity cuts taken as part of Greece's international bailout, authorities are anxious to show they are also cracking down on endemic corruption and tax evasion.

The finance ministry said this month its quest to clamp down on tax evaders has netted tens of millions of euros, as tax inspectors head as far afield as island resorts and rock concerts to fine wrongdoers and seize assets.

But the administration's efforts are still falling short of past promises to raise billions of euros from tax evaders, notably from independent professions such as doctors and lawyers.

The failure has forced the government to hike taxes and cut ever deeper into pensions and civil servant wages to meet fiscal targets, adding to popular anger against the political class.

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Sophie Hares)