Σάββατο, 7 Νοεμβρίου 2009

ACT UP DRASE HELLAS: How "Non" Governmental Is It? Lack Of Transparency And Accountability In Greece


Conform an article on a big Greek newspaper (Kathimerini, "Σκοτεινά σημεία στη διαχείριση κονδυλίων από ΜΚΟ", 28-10-2009, http://news.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_ell_2_28/10/2009_335153)
and another one on an e-newspaper (Newstr@p.gr, "Ιστορία 'περιβόλι' η υπόθεση της ΜΚΟ ACT UP", 7-11-2009, http://www.newstrap.gr/main/pass.asp?titlenumber_fo=1361), serious issues are raised concerning the function and financial managementof a Greek NGO with activities on HIV/AIDS and trafficking, ACT UP ΔΡΑΣΕ HELLAS, as well as lack of transparency and accountability in Greece.


The main issues raised in these articles can be described as following:

Mr. Simon Rawicz, British citizen, was hired by the NGO ACTUP ΔΡΑΣΕ HELLAS in July 2008 for a year as an office employee.


In the beginning of February 2009, as reported by Mr Rawicz and confirmed by the legal satement of Ms Christina Chorianopoulou -long term volunteer of the NGO- the president of the NGO, Mr Konstadis Kampourakis, asked them to fabricate receipts, in order to justify the voids in management of the state funds this NGO had been provided with. They both refused to do so. The foling day the directors of ACTUP changed the locks, preventing Mr Rawicz from working.

In the following period, Mr. Rawicz sent informative e-mails towards several ministries, in which he requested to be provided with suggestions on how to proceed, as he had discovered irregularities in management and illegal actions in the NGO he was working at.. He never got any reply to those emails. This issue was also broadcast on a radio-show of SKAI.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRTbXitqrWE16.5.2009 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0HMH3WHRvI30.5.2009), as well as to a number of public services.

Due to his denial to commit fraud and after he appealed to the Athens Work Centre on the issues of his work relations and the money owed to him, only half an hour before the start of the tripartite meeting on the 27th May 2009, Mr Kampourakis filed on behalf of ACTUP, as a distraction obviously, a lawsuit at the Court of First Instance against Mr Rawicz, in which he denies his signature on the contract, accuses Rawicz for slander and defamation (the report on SKAI) etc.


After this, Simon Rawicz sued all the Members of Board of ACTUP on false accusation, attaching to the indictment – among other documents – the report of juridical graphologist Ms Magda Kampouri, according to which there is not a single doubt on the authenticity of signature of Mr Kampourakis on the contract.


Mr. Rawicz submitted several requests to public services and public organizations (among others the Ministries of Health and Exterior) asking to be provided with informations about the projects handed out to ACTUP and funded by public sector.


Mr Rawicz has also addressed the Ombudsman for the denial of Hellenic Aid (without any explanation as defined by law) to provide him with copies that prove the procedures of entrusting, implementation and management of projects funded by Hellenic Aid as well as the denial of H.C.I.D.C. to provide him with copies of the agreement on the European project SIALON and its approval from the Ethics Committee of the Institution (see below). These public services and organizations are now under investigation by the Ombudsman in relation with the procedures funding and accountability of this NGO.


A complete folder accompanied by a 490 page proof on the issues described below has been submitted to the General Inspector of Public Administration.


Recently, the Ministry of Health asked Hellenic Center For Infectious Diseases Control (H.C.I.D.C.) to answer on the issues raised by Mr Rawicz.


A financial and management audit, as well as a tax audit have been recently been ordered on ACTUP ΔΡΑΣΕ HELLAS by services of the Ministry of Finance.


Plus, Hellenic Aid has submitted a file with the relevant issues raised in Mr Rawicz’s request to the Central Service on Special Audits of the Ministry of Finance for further investigation.



ACTUP DRASE HELLAS: FUNCTION - FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT


According to an entry on the Proceedings Book of ACTUP, which has been erased using a corrective, but was read and was impressed in the report of juridical graphologist Magda Kampouri, there is a void in the function of the NGO during the period 1995-1994. Indeed, there aren’t any entries in the Book for the years 1995-2001 (at least). In order for the following elections to be legal, the Court of First Instance should determine a Temporary Administrative Committee to run the elections, something that hasn’t occurred. Consequently, all the Administrative Boards which, according to the Proceedings Book, are supposed to have been elected from 2002 until today are not legally constituted and thus all funding that ACTUP has received from 2002 (at least) until today (and possibly any potential funding from 1995 onwards) are also not legal.


The same goes for the amendment of the Statute which seems to have been introduced in 2002 and which, by amending the article that refers to the aims of the NGO, allowed ACTUP to bein the Register of NGOs of the Ministry of Foreign and to receive funding from the department of HELLENIC AID of the Ministry. The minutes of this General Assembly are not register in the Proceedings Book and thus any extract of the Minutes submitted to the Court of First Instance for the approval of the New Statutes or to Hellenic Aid for the subscription of ACTUP in the Register of NGOs is probably a false document.

Furthermore, the elections in 2008 are alleged to have been run by a Supervisory Committee, two alleged members of which -Simon Rawicz (he is alleged electe as member of thi committee just one month after his arrival in Greece and speaking only English) and Christina Chorianopoulou) plead ignorance and have never signed any relevant document.


According to the entries in the Proceedings Book in 2002, elected members of Board are Konstadis Kampourakis (president), Miro Paskalev (vice-president), Giannis Daremas (Secretary), Chryssoula Botsi (financial director), Amalia Thermogianni (member).


From 2002 until today Kampourakis and Botsi remain in the positions of president and financial director on equivalent, while new members of Board are Andreas Grillias (2005, 2008) and Kostas Zikas (2008). The latter was a member of the Financial Controlling Committee during the period 2005-2008.


It is also remarkable that Stanimir Paskalev and Giannis Daremas, former vice-president and secretary of ACTUP ΔΡΑΣΕ HELLAS on equivalent, who appear to have been re-elected during the elections in 2005, plead to complete ignorance for the actual elections as well as for themselves being reelected.


The above also note that they weren’t informed on the financial management of ACTUP, even though they repeatedly requested so.


The funding ACTUP has received from the Hellenic Center for Infectious Diseases Control (H.C.I.D.C.), Hellenic Aid and other institutions are not recorded in the Proceedings Book, although according to the Statute their approval by the Board was obligatory. Daremas and Paskalev plead ignorance for the projects LAIS II, ERATO and AVICENNA, funded by Hellenic Aid, although their signatures were necessary for the submitted applications for ACTUP to be funded by the Ministry.



MAIN (KNOWN) FUNDING RESOURCES AFTER 2004

  • Ministry of Health & Welfare – Centre for Disease Control ( H.C.I.D.C.) of the Ministry of Health.

  • YDAS (HELLENIC AID) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • European Projects, including TAMPEP and SIALON.

  • Concerts (indicatively: Jennifer Lopez, September 2008. The payment of Lopez would be given to ACTUP. In January 2009, according to the Proceedings Book of the NGO, it hadn’t been cleared yet).

  • Income from the Khiel’s sales (week before Easter) .

  • Other sources of income / sponsoring: Ministry of Mercantile Marine, General Secretariat of Youth, Olympic Airways, Shipping companies, Downtown magazine, etc.

ASSIGNEMENT OF PROJECTS – FUNDING FROM HELLENIC CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASES CONTROL (H.C.I.D.C.)


Conflict of Interests: Three of the Board members of ACTUP, Kabourakis, Botsi, Grillias, have different types of relation to the Ministry of Health and in particular with H.C.I.D.C., which is one of the institutions that fund the NGO.

Konstadis Kampourakis, president of ACTUP since 2002 until today: not known under which criteria (see below) he was assigned and based on which qualifications he is paid as 1) Advisor to the former Minister of Health, 2) Special Scientific Associate in the Department of Strategy and Health Policies of the Ministry of Health, 3) Advisor to the president of H.C.I.D.C., Giannis Pierroutsakos, 4) Scientific person in charge and editor of the National Plan on AIDS, 5)Employee of H.C.I.D.C. since February 2008 and Head of the Department for Study and Prevention of Trafficking of H.C.I.D.C..

à It must be mentioned that this advisor to the former Minister of Health and till recently candidate for the Presidency of New Democracy, Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos, and to the president of H.C.I.D.C. is at the same time a member of the Volunteers Committee of PASOK.

Chryssa Botsi, financial director of ACTUP since 2002: works for H.C.I.D.C. since 1997. 1) Head of the HIV/AIDS Department of H.C.I.D.C., 2) Doctor – pneumologist at the Infectious Diseases Unit of the “A. Syggros” Hospital.


Andreas Grillias, member of Board of ACTUP since 2005, vice-president since 2008. Mentioned as “volunteer psychiatrist” in the Infectious Diseases Unit of H.C.I.D.C.. In September 2008, by the decision of the Board of H.C.I.D.C., he was hired as a doctor in this institution, even though, same as Mr Konstadis Kampourakis, he’s not a member of the Doctors’ Association of Athens or the Doctors’ Association of Piraeus.

à As it’s been mentioned, Konstadis Kampourakis and Andreas Grillias, who appear in several publications and websites as doctors, are not members of the Medical Association of Athens or the Medical Association of Piraeus. Being a member of the Medical Association is the essential condition, as defined by the law, in order to practice legally the medical profession and also to use the title of doctor.


In addition, the HIV/AIDS-STIs and ESTHER Department (head of which is Chryssoula Botsi) in cooperation with the Department for Study and Prevention of Trafficking (head of which is Konstadis Kabourakis) are the National Focal Point for the European Projects on Public Health of the European Commission. Its role is among others “to inform the interested organizations – governmental or non-governmental – on the European Projects on Public Health that are proclaimed and suggested annually to the European Commission for funding”. It is to be investigated whether any such information was forwarded to anyone, especially on the Projects that were assigned directly to ACTUP, i.e. SIALON.


Assignment of projects and the funding of ACTUP are without Competition, violating the Internal Regulation Act of H.C.I.D.C.. There is doubt whether any programme contract (with description and budget of the project) has been ever signed, or documents or receipts have ever been requested from H.C.I.D.C. for the clarification of expenses on behalf of ACTUP, given that for instance expenses receipts on an action funded by H.C.I.D.C., Safe Summer 2006 (and actually after it had been implemented) were submitted, according to information from the employee of the Ministry of Exterior Mr. S. Linardakis, by ACTUP to Hellenic Aid after the extra judicial invitation in May 2009 to clarify the projects funded by Hellenic Aid.


Funding that ACTUP has received from H.C.I.D.C. do not appear at all in the Proceedings Book of the NGO.


SIALON Project: it is a European Project implemented in Greece by H.C.I.D.C. and ACTUP (who participates without undergoing a competition) without the Permission of the Personal Data Protection Authority, although it refers to sensitive personal data the collection and analysis of which is firstly forbidden, and is allowed by exception under specific conditions and after the permission of the Authority. SIALON constitutes the collection and analysis of saliva from the buccal cavity of homosexual and bisexual men (MSM) and the filling in of detailed questionnaires on their sexual life.


According to the initial agreement


(http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:gPGN-5-0PxoJ:bur.regione.veneto.it/BurvServices/Pubblica/Download.aspx%3Fname%3D659_AllegatoA_204786.pdf%26type%3D9%26storico%3DFalse+SIALON+%22personal+data%22&cd=10&hl=el&ct=clnk&gl=gr) the president of the (non profit conform the Statute) ACTUP Konstadis Kampourakis would cost the program as a researcher ( without specifying which is his scientific capacity) 21.910 euro(145 euro/day), Ms Botsi, as an employee of H.C.I.D.C. – researcher 4.350 euro (145 euro/day). The cost for Ms Olga Adrami, filling in for Mr Pierroutsakos, President of H.C.I.D.C., would come up to 24.000 euro (320 euro/day).




= H.C.I.D.C. signed a contract with both Simon Rawicz and Christina Chorianopoulou to collect the abovementioned data, although they don’t work in the medical field and are not bound by professional confidentiality (necessary condition by Greek law), without any mention in their contracts about sensitive personal data and obligation to confidentiality, thus exposing them to the danger of committing illegal actions.


= H.C.I.D.C. also denied to provide Mr Rawicz a copy of the agreement on the SIALON Project (protocol number2488/2-4-2008) invoking “personal data”, even though this agreement is mentioned in the contract that Mr Rawicz has signed with H.C.I.D.C., as well as a copy of the approval of the Ethics Committee, which is necessary for the implementation of the Project and the collection of data. H.C.I.D.C. also didn’t provide the applicant the response of Mr Charis Politis, legal advisor of H.C.I.D.C. and Head of the Office of Ethics of the institution, who urged that H.C.I.D.C. should address to the Personal Data Protection Committee. It’s noteworthy that Mr Politis was unaware of everything regarding the SIALON Project, as he had no relevant information from the directors of KEELNO.


The president and members of Board of H.C.I.D.C. have been sued from Mr Simon Rawicz for infringement as they didn’t provide him with the documents on the funding of ACTUP, without explaining their denial as they were obliged to according to the relevant legislation. Should be noted that Mr Rawicz was initially faced with the denial of a protocol number, which was bent after negotiation (!) with the president of H.C.I.D.C., Mr Giannis Pierroutsakos.


For a similar reason (since H.C.I.D.C. hasn’t replied or provided copies of documents regarding members of the Board of ACTUP who work in H.C.I.D.C., again without any explanation), this institution is sued also by Ms Kallia Chatzigianni.

On the denial to provide copies relevant to SIALON, Simon Rawicz has submitted an appeal to H.C.I.D.C., in which he verifies that he has legal interest and notes, as is noted above, that the directors of H.C.I.D.C., due to improvisation and neglect during the implementation of their duties, have exposed him to the danger of committing illegal actions.


For the same issue, Mr Rawicz has addressed the Ombudsman.


FUNDING FROM HELLENIC AID (YDAS)


During the years 2004-2005, ACTUP received from Hellenic Aid 178.155 euros as advance to the approved total of funding of 320.310 euros for the projects LAIS, ERATO, and AVICENNA. ACTUP didn’t attribute or provide receipts during the obliged by law and regulations of Hellenic Aid intervals. Due to this, a juridical commissary summoned ACTUP, in May 2009, before the Hearings Committee of Hellenic Aid, who is checking the submitted supporting documents. According to information, among those documents there are some supporting documents for a project that was funded, without competition, from H.C.I.D.C., which obviously never asked those documents on attribution from ACTUP.


On April 27th, 2009, S. Rawicz submitted a request to Hellenic Aid, with which he asked to be informed on what projects ACTUP had received funding for during 2000-2009, on the procedures of entrusting, control and attribution that were followed, as well as whether ACTUP would have to return the funding in case the NGO wasn’t in accordance with its obligations. He also requested to be provided with copies of the relevant documents that had been composed within the above-mentioned procedures (receipts, contracts, progress reports, etc) and are part of the relevant record files. He also sent an e-mail to the General Director of Hellenic Aid and President of the Hearings Committee, Mr Merkourios Karafotias, in which he informed him on the details of his own involvement in this case, as well as for the fact that he and Ms. Chorianopoulou had been asked to fabricate receipts. Mr Rawicz informed Mr Karafotias on the same issues during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where Dochtsis and Chatzigianni were present. On July 20th, 2009, Mr Rawicz sent to Mr Karafotias (also notifying other relevant departments of Hellenic Aid) a new document, which referred to all the details of the case- on the issues of voids and irregularities on the function of the organization from 2002 to 2009 which possibly render any subsidies ACTUP received from Hellenic Aid illegal from the outset- to the fact that in the Proceedings Book of the organization Rawicz and Chorianopoulou are falsely mentioned as members of the Elections Committee during the elections of June 2008 that subsequently makes the Board of Directors illegally constituted, etc.


In the reply of Hellenic Aid on the first request of S. Rawicz - where the relevant amounts of funding and the fact that ACTUP had been summoned before the Hearings Committee to attribute accounts are included - there is no mention to the copies of documents requested without any excuse for not providing them, as law obliges. For this reason, S. Rawicz has addressed the Greek Ombudsman and a relevant audit has been started on October 19th.


Renevant letters has been sent to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as to the Court of Auditors in the Ministry, focusing on the legal issues, and first of all on the fact ACTUP, for the reasons mentioned above, had not even the right to be subscribed to the Register of NGos of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The fundings ACTUP has received from Hellenic Aid do not appear in the Proceedings Book of the NGO.