Tuesday

23rd Apr 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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.

Greek orthodox head defends Church over tax scandals

Taxes in Greece continue to slip through state scrutiny as some corporations, wealthy Greek-ship owning families, and the Greek Orthodox Church are either exempt or use loopholes to hide millions of euros.

Greek parliament votes to probe ex-minister

Deputies in the Greek parliament early Friday voted to launch a parliamentary investigation into Greece’s former minister of finance Giorgos Papaconstantinou.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us