Lack of transparency in the Greek Ministry of Migration’s €1.7 million in secret funding
When the Migration Minister created a classified fund he claimed full transparency, so that spending "would not need to be marked ‘confidential’ in the end". Three years later there has been no transparency at all.
Until the end of 2021, the confidential spendings of the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum amounted to €1.7 million. The funds have been distributed without ever informing Parliament, despite Minister Notis Mitarachi’s commitment to transparency and keeping lawmakers fully informed, when the special fund was established in 2020.
The Migration Ministry’s classified fund was created in May 2020, when a ministry bill on asylum had included provisions for “spending on responding to the migration crisis” as a special appropriation for matters of classified national urgency.
Payments are made by ministerial decision, after being examined by a special three-member committee, while all relevant documents are destroyed no later than six months.
Originally, there was no provision for informing Parliament about any such confidential expenditures.
Minister Mitarachi: “We no longer need to call them classified”
During the debate of the bill in Parliament, the Minister assured that “There will be full disclosure in Parliament about these expenditures. So, I don’t think we need to call them ‘classified’ in this session anymore.”
According to the Parliament’s procedural regulations, information on classified expenditure is forwarded by the competent ministry to the President of the Parliament, who is required to call (on the same day) the Vice Presidents, in order to brief them on the issue.
The Vice Presidents must maintain confidentiality even after the end of their term in office. After the briefing, the President of Parliament must return the sealed file of the information to the Ministry.
Payments under €25,000
Solomon cross-checked information from sources close to the Vice Presidents of Parliament (Sophia Sakorafa, Odysseas Konstantinopoulos, Dimitris Vitas) which confirm that they were never briefed about the expenses of the Ministry of Migration’s classified fund.
We also addressed a question to the Ministry of Migration to clarify whether the entire amount (€1.7 million) was sourced from the special account or only part of it, but we’ve received no reply at the time of publication – nor has the Ministry answered our further questions about if and when it had informed the Parliament about these expenditures.
This leads to the conclusion that funds of up to €1.7 million have been distributed in payments of less than €25,000 each. Without ever informing Parliament.
PASOK, the Socialist Party which currently ranks third in Parliament, has already taken a stand on this issue, reacting to a Solomon publication from August 2022, which revealed the Ministry’s non-transparent spending for surveillance systems focused on asylum seekers.
Accusing Mitarachi of delaying tactics to circumvent parliamentary scrutiny and compartmentalizing secret spending below €25,000, PASOK stated:
“As in the issue of wiretapping, the government appears to manipulate confidential procedures to facilitate its own agenda. It confirms that it is hostile to the institutions of transparency. It is eliminating every institutional guarantee that exists to control its work.”
In response to a question by PASOK’s MP George Kaminis, Mitarachi replied in October 2022, that for relevant expenditures exceeding €25,000 the Parliament is informed “regularly, where foreseen”.
According to data published by Inside Story, sourced from the annual budget expenditure reports published by the General Accounting Office of the State, the Ministry of Migration spent €104,199 in 2019, €1,248,496 in 2020, and €400,000 in 2021.
The bulk of expenditures rose in 2020, the year in which the Greek-Turkish border crisis in the region of the Evros River took place.
However, it is noteworthy to mention that classified expenditures also appeared in 2019’s annual budget report, while the classified funds were introduced in May 2020. Additionally, in the estimated budget reports, zero revenue was declared or earmarked for the corresponding years.