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Greece reported nearly 1 billion euros in tax evasion fines

Staff Writer |
The government of Greece has opened hundreds of tax-evasion cases against citizens suspected of hiding assets outside of country borders.

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The government is already assessing some 810 million euros in fines from suspected scofflaws, according to Special Financial Prosecutor Panagiotis Athanasiou.

The government, which began examining suspected income tax evaders in early 2015, recently ratcheted up efforts to recover back-taxes due, after the agency increased the number of investigators from a handful to several dozen over the past few months.

Most of the investigative leads have come from the so-called "Lagarde" and "Borjans" lists, which the Greek government acquired via leaks from Swiss banking whistleblowers. The Lagarde list, contained on a thumb-drive, had records on 2,000 Greek citizens who maintain Swiss bank accounts.

Between January 1st 2015 and July 15th 2016, investigators have 191 legal cases pending against Greek citizens who were on the Lagarde list, with 94 cases closed.

The Borjans list was acquired by anti-corruption Secretary General George Vassiliadis in November 2015; since then over 1,000 cases have been initiated against people suspected of tax evasion.

In addition, an anti-corruption crackdown has led to fines and asset seizures of nearly EU 500 million

The anti-corruption cases deal with a disparate class of businesses, including the defense industry, shipping, hospitals and drug suppliers and finance.

Over 1,300 cases had been investigated since July 2013, and of those, more than 200 were deemed relevant and were concluded while more than 130 are pending, the government says.

Eleni Raikou, the Special Prosecutor against Corruption, says that corruption cases involving defense contracting have yielded over 40 million euros in cash settlements, while seized assets are valued at an additional 450 million euros. Assets seized include cash, artwork, jewelry and luxury automobiles.

Separately, the General Secretariat estimates that Greek authorities have seized over 634 million smuggled cigarettes and associated tobacco products in 2015.

These confiscations correspond to missing taxes of 115.281.813 euros, and make Greece the leading country in Europe for such seizures.

In January and February 2016, over 58 million more cigarettes and associated tobacco products were seized, corresponding to missing taxes of over 31 million euros, the General Secretariat says.

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