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Debt-ridden Greece pays pensions to dead September 1, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, Yunanistan.
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Greece, which is struggling against monster debts, has wasted millions of euros a year on retirement payments to long-dead pensioners, labour ministry officials revealed.

The labour ministry on Wednesday said it is currently paying pensions to about 500 claimants over 110 years old, but recently discovered that more than 300 of them had passed away years ago.

“We found one pension was paid to someone who had died in 1999,” Deputy Labour Minister George Koutroumanis told a news conference.

// “We found people drawing a pension though they died five-seven years ago,” he said.

In some cases, the money was dutifully deposited in bank accounts and never claimed, the deputy minister said.

The authorities are now trying to compile a comprehensive pensioner registry and defrauders will face prosecution, the ministry said.

Combined with efforts to root out bogus invalidity pension claimants, the ministry hopes to reduce what Koutroumanis termed “profligacy and theft” costing 80 million to 100 million euros (up to $A143.65 million) a year.

Greece’s chaotic account-keeping has led to massive waste of state funds for decades. In addition to misdirected pension payments, billions of euros have been lost to overcharged hospital bills and fake health prescriptions.

The Greek state accumulated budget deficits for years to keep the health system and other public entities from collapse, but ultimately found itself on the brink of bankruptcy this year and had to be rescued by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund with a huge bailout loan.

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