Thursday

29th Sep 2016

Greek finance officials among suspected tax evaders

Greek magazine Hot Doc has published the names of 2,059 suspected tax evaders in a move likely to stoke social tension.

The roll call of people who held accounts at the HSBC bank in Geneva includes Stavros Papastavros, an aide to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and the wife of Georgios Voulgarakis, Samaras' former minister of culture and public order, as well as officials in the finance ministry, businessmen, doctors, housewives, lawyers, pensioners and students.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Vaxevanis: 'I am a journalist and I did my job' (Photo: John D. Carnessiotis, Athens, Greece)

Hot Doc redacted the amounts of money held in the accounts, but said some of them contained as much as €500 million.

The journal's editor, Costas Vaxevanis, was briefly arrested after it went out on Saturday (27 October).

He is to face misdemeanour charges on violating privacy laws in court on Monday.

"I only did my job. I am a journalist and I did my job," he said in a video statement sent to Reuters.

"The important thing is that a group of people - when Greece is starving - make a profit ... Tomorrow in parliament they will vote to cut €100-200 in pay for the Greek civil servant, for the Greek worker while at the same time most of the 2,000 people on the list appear to be evading tax by secretly sending money to Switzerland," he added.

Hot Doc said it got the list on a USB stick from an anonymous whistleblower.

It originated in 2007 when an HSBC staff member stole data on 24,000 customers and fled to France.

The then French finance minister, Christine Lagarde, who now runs the International Monetary Fund, passed the Greek names to Athens in 2010, lending it the name "the Lagarde list."

The data later went missing, prompting conspiracy theories which led to a parliamentary enquiry.

Former finance minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou told the probe earlier this month that the net worth of the list is €1.5 billion.

He added that Greek tax police did nothing about it because "they probably got scared. They looked at the names on the list and saw it was full of important people from business and publishing and decided not to go ahead without clear political instructions and cover."

For its part, the Greek government has declined to speak out on the Hot Doc revelation.

But Voulgarakis - one of the high-level names implicated in the article - denied having offshore accounts.

The publication is likely to stoke tension at a time when Greek leaders look to cut another €13.5 billion to meet bailout demands.

"Unfortunately, justice has been quick to move against those who reveal, while showing sluggishness against those who conceal, who lost, forgot, didn't see and didn't hear," the country's left-wing opposition party, Syriza, said in a statement.

A study by the University of Chicago in June estimated that Greece loses €28 billion a year in tax evasion.

Some of its wealthiest citizens and institutions - shipowners and the Greek Ortodox church - are exempt from tax by law.

New EU rules on financial products in limbo

A feud between MEPs and the EU commission is threatening to derail financial services regulation that would protect consumers from misleading investment products.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceWhy the Investment Plan for Europe Does not Drive the Sustainable Energy Transition
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region Seeks to Make Its Voice Heard in the World
  3. Taipei EU OfficeCountries Voice Support for Taiwan's Participation in ICAO
  4. World VisionNew Tool Measuring Government Efforts to Protect Children Released
  5. GoogleDid You Know Europe's Largest Dinosaur Gallery Is in Brussels? Check It Out Now
  6. IPHRHuman Rights in Uzbekistan After Karimov - Joint Statement
  7. CISPECloud Infrastructure Providers Unveil Data Protection Code of Conduct
  8. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  9. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  10. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  11. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  12. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?