Three employees of the financial crimes squad SDOE arrested in Athens on Monday by Police Internal Affairs officers were formally charged on Tuesday with felony charges of passive bribery and attempted blackmail.
A finance ministry announcement issued on Monday after the arrests said that administrative steps are already underway, and will be followed by disciplinary procedures.
The ministry noted that, under the provisions of the new law on combating tax evasion, penalties for such actions include up to 10 years' imprisonment and the ability of remand of the suspects, regardless of the sum of the transaction (even if just one euro), especially for finance ministry employees.
The announcement stressed that the finance ministry is determined to show zero tolerance in cases of violations by its employees and will be merciless towards any phenomenon of corruption in the ministry's services.
According to information, the three SDOE employees had asked and received 1,000 euros from a tire vulcanizer business owner in order to overlook irregularities found during an audit on the business.
The one thousand euros, in marked bills, were found in the detainees' possession.
Police said the investigation was continuing, and announcements would be made after its completion.
The three appeared before a public prosecutor on Tuesday.
Police said that a pistol and ammunition were found in the possession of one of the detainees at the time of his arrest, adding that the man did not have a licence for the weapon. They also found 9,160 euros in cash in his possession, while a search of his house revealed another 85,570 euros in cash and a luxury car, all of which were confiscated.
The investigation revealed that the three SDOE employees have visited the company approximately 10 days earlier and demanded the money from the owner, who informed authorities. Police Internal Affairs officers marked the bills, and were waiting for the three employees outside the business when they went to pick up the bribe money.
The three were arrested when a search turned up the marked bills.