Corruption is easier to be recognized than to be defined. Therefore Corruption is usually characterized by the ‘’violation on a regular basis of all moral and legal rules of a person who serves as a public official during wielding its duties’’ or, in other words, ‘’the abuse of public power for private gain’’. Alternatively, it can be argued that corruption cases are mainly those involving the exploitation of the power entrusted to a person who serves in the public or private sector, aims to personal benefit and appears mostly in the form of:
• bribery, whether in the public or private sector,
• a breach of duty when the employee is intended to harm the citizen or the state or to gain for himself / herself or for another unlawful benefit
• abuse of authority/public power (when the responsible person/person in charge has been illegally treated or extorted to obtain any public statement or expose another person to persecution or has failed to prosecute a culpable person or cause his acquittal of the punishment).
Citizens can often face such situations, which are actually due to criminal offenses. Illegal acts that are against the rights and the interests of the citizen, such as threats, extortion, theft and personal injury, do not mean that they can be considered as corruption cases, if there is no evidence of abuse of public power/authority.
As mentioned above, the most important and crucial criterion for General Secretariat against Corruption to be dealing with such case is the exploitation of the authority that has been assigned to a person (employee or officer) for his own benefit.
No. It is not necessary for the complainant to know whether his/her complaint is a matter of corruption and/or fraud. It is important, however, for the complaint to be as specific and complete as possible.
Also, the citizen often faces injustices that are likely to constitute criminal offenses, but this does not mean that these offenses can also be considered as cases of corruption or fraud. Corruption is generally defined as the exploitation of the power entrusted to a person in the private or public sector for his own benefit (abuse of public power for private gain).
It is important to note that a complaint about corruption and/or fraud may not only concern the complainant. In any case, it is important to have at first a complaint. However, it is even more important in such cases that the data/elements of the complaint are accurate and specific and not general or vague.
Fraud in the co-funded projects concerns a series of actions and / or omissions done by the involved administrative bodies which may lead to irregularities or illegal acts which are characterized by deliberate misleading or falsification and harm the interests of the European Union, in the use of European budget resources.
Because the reception of complaints and the coordination of further administrative actions that are probably required is a structural and exclusive competence of the General Secretariat against Corruption, as is set by the institutional and regulatory framework of its operation.
To make sure, try to answer the following questions:
• Does it concern a public servant?
• Is it a breach of duty or maladministration that results in significant loss or damage to assets?
• Are there any claims that could prove to lead an organization / service into disrepute?
• Does this issue result in widespread disruption to services or organizations?
• Affects a number of people?
• Has it spread throughout the organization / service?
• Is it a large amount of public money?
• Does it concern European Union money?
• Is this behavior manifest in a serious and systemic manner? Which is a reason for taking disciplinary measures?
All complainants have their own specific weight, if are provided with the best documentation, and serve the basic purpose of the General Secretariat which is to take all those necessary administrative measures to limit the extension of possible corruption and fraud phenomena
The objective factors that indicate the severity of a complaint may be:
• The type of behavior / event
• Frequency (happened once or frequently)?
• How behavior / event occurred (planning required and attempts to conceal behavior?)
• The seniority of the person or persons who have committed the illegal conduct
• Economic damage caused to the national and / or European budget
• The harm or risk to the agency service
According to the L.4320/15 (Art.7 (Β) and under the Art.4(3) of Regulation (EU) 883/2013, the competent National Authority for receiving fraud complaints concerning co-funded programs is the General Secretariat Against Corruption (Greek AFCOS service).
It is important to know that the more specific your complaint is, namely by referring to a specific department, a co-funded program/ project, etc, the sooner our service will proceed with the necessary procedures and will pursue the case.
To submit your complaints, you have the following options:
1. completing the relevant complaint form, available on General Secretariat’s site by enclosing the relevant supporting documents
2. posting your complaint and any documentation you have at the address of the General Secretariat Against Corruption (207 Peiraios & 92 Alkifronos, 11853, Athens)
3. In person (or by proxy) at the General Secretariat’s front desk during working days and hours (8.30am - 4.30pm)
You do not have to send the complaint by post or fax if you have already submitted it electronically
Yes, anonymous complaints are accepted by the General Secretariat and can be submitted by citizens in the ways listed in the relevant question: "How can I submit my complaint?" It is stressed that the citizen can also submit anonymous complaints in person at the General Secretariat.
Complaints about a violation of National and EU law relating to corruption and / or fraud can be submitted by natural and legal persons.
In summary, all complaints submitted (whether electronically, by fax, by post, by telephone or in person) are recorded in the central protocol of the General Secretariat and receive, in addition to the unique protocol number, a distinct but unified description and forwarded to the Complaints Division of the General Secretariat.
The Complaints Division is the competent department that takes note of the content of the complaint, which is considered in principle as to the completeness of the information provided. Within 15 days and if there is the possibility (ie if the complaint is named), the complainant will receive a receipt of the acceptance of the complaint.
Subsequently, each complaint is categorized and forwarded to the competent National Control Authority. The General Secretariat within the framework of its responsibilities, monitors and coordinates its further investigation. In the near future, by reference to the protocol number of each complaint, it will be possible the citizens to be informed of the stage of the complaint’s assessment by the competent control service and / or its outcome, from General Secretariat’s site.
The citizen is able to submit his/her complaint to other competent National Authorities that exist and which the citizen judges them to be the most competent to handle his/her complaint.
In this case, however, it is very important to mention that submitting and / or communicating the same complaint to a number of different Authorities has as a direct result the handling of the same matter by different actors and as an indirect result the possibility of the ineffective treatment of the complaint, due to lack of competence of the corresponding bodies.
Any complaint received by the General Secretariat is significant and none is put in the record of the Secretariat, in the sense that, even if some initial examination is considered incomplete or unclear, it may be supplementary to a subsequent complaint. However, the General Secretariat can not help in all cases of corruption.
The General Secretariat:
• Does not provide directly legal advice and legal representation.
• Does not replace the competent investigative, prosecution authorities.
• Cannot intervene in cases seised by the competent judicial and prosecution authorities or a court decision has been issued.
• Cannot make an oral or written statement on the content of the complaints.
• Communicates with the complainants only in writing and only to further investigate the provision of additional information and if this is possible, ie named complaint.
• Will forward the complaints not concerning cases of corruption or fraud in co-funded projects to other Agencies with the relevant reference to the General Secretariat’s non-competence.