Wednesday

19th Sep 2018

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.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

Opinion

Aid, migration and the next EU budget

Th next EU budget is the most pivotal opportunity to advance a vision for Europe rooted in human rights and that builds a Union that works for all its members.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us