The omnibus bill, more than 100 pages long and titled "Measures of Support and Growth for the Greek Economy," won passage here in the middle of the night in March, as Parliament raced to meet a deadline set by Greece's creditors.
Only afterward did a legislator from the governing New Democracy party notice an unsettling provision. Buried on page 78 was language that essentially gave retroactive immunity to thousands of workers in state-funded organizations that could shield them from future corruption prosecutions.
That change is among a flurry of new immunity provisions, often slipped into complex or unrelated bills this year, that have triggered outrage among law enforcement officials and government critics, who fear that long-awaited efforts to clampdown on corruption are being stymied.
"We cannot estimate how many individuals have been saved from criminal investigations and the money it involves," said Kostas Tzavaras, the New Democracy lawmaker who discovered the change in the penal code while flipping through the new legislation one evening in his study. "It's billions."
Years of rampant corruption helped drive Greece to the brink of bankruptcy. Combating the problem is one of the government's signal challenges as it tries to restore confidence that it is changing politics as usual and that the sacrifices required under its 240 billion euro, or about $305 billion, bailout are not being foisted on ordinary Greeks alone.
Mr. Tzavaras, who has called for a formal investigation by the Supreme Court, is not alone in speaking out about what he sees as quiet efforts to shut down corruption investigations and possibly prevent the clawing back of ill-gotten gains. Leandros Rakintzis, the Greek inspector general, angrily chided Parliament in September for passing laws legitimizing the illegal spending of state funds.
"I don't think it is right that we spend the money to investigate only to have the laws give immunity retroactively," he said a few days later in his Athens office. "Maybe there should be protection for political decisions. But if you stole a million dollars you should be treated like a common criminal."
In a rare public complaint, the Association of Greek Judges and Prosecutors has also condemned not only the change to the penal code in the omnibus bill but also three other new immunity provisions.
One offered protections for officials who had handled disbursements from a pension fund. Another protected officials who had overseen school building expenses.The third prohibited prosecution of high-level officials who had been working in the Health Ministry but had received postgraduate study benefits.
In a statement, the prosecutors said they were seeing "law change after law change"often "inconsistent, incoherent and fragmentary," a trend that raised suspicions about whether the laws were meant to "serve purposes beyond the national interest."