Greece still losing billions to corruption


Greece still losing billions to corruption

Greece still losing billions to corruption

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
  • dio
Diomidis Spinellis says the state is often able to claim only 20% of the fines imposed on tax cheats.

ATHENS: Crisis-hit Greece is still losing billions of euros (1 euro=about RM4.25) to corruption in spite of efforts to stamp out graft and maximise the state's tax revenue, a report said on Wednesday.


The Ta Nea newspaper said that tax evasion costs Greece 13 billion euros ($17.4 billion) annually in lost revenue, citing remarks by experts and state officials at a conference on corruption on Tuesday.


The finance ministry's former information systems chief Diomidis Spinellis, who resigned in October, told the conference that the state is often able to claim only 20 per cent of fines imposed on tax cheats.


Another 40 per cent is commonly written off and the remaining 40 per cent is pocketed by the tax official in charge of the procedure, Spinellis said.


And when the state is called upon to repay tax, 10 per cent of the sum is similarly embezzled by corrupt officials, the head of investigations at Greece's anti-fraud squad (SDOE) Nikos Lekkas told the conference.


Lekkas added that a bank transparency law adopted in 1995 had been applied only last year.


Earlier this month, the international anti-graft watchdog Transparency International maintained a poor sleaze score on Greece, awarding it 80th place on a list of 182 countries worldwide.


Greece's shadow economy is believed to represent around a third of the official economy, which is mired in a deep recession as the government struggles to apply a tough economic overhaul supervised by its international creditors, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.


Ta Nea added that a much-touted parallel drive publicly to identify state debtors had so far yielded insignificant results, with most of the businessmen arrested by police employing legal loopholes to evade imprisonment.


Some of them had already filed for bankruptcy, thereby preventing the state from seizing their assets.

"We arrested 17 people who owe 5.6 million euros but only the sum of 50,000 euros was paid," a SDOE source told Ta Nea.


Overall, the state has been able to collect 5.1 million euros from expected gains of 41 billion euros, the daily said.