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1999-2010 - the golden decade of "dirty" money in Greece

07 May 2014 / 18:05:56  GRReporter
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The 1999 - 2010 decade seems to be the period when the largest amounts of "dirty" money were laundered in Greece, as assessed by the service combating the legalization of proceeds from criminal activities, terrorist financing and controlling the property status declaration.

This assessment was made at today's meeting of the Committee on Institutions and Parliament Transparency, which took place to approve some changes in the composition of the service by the appointment of 12 new permanent members.

These are individuals with extensive experience primarily in the area of ​​control, who will occupy positions in key departments of the service.

Significant is the finding of Ioannis Katsipis, a tax inspector and member of the service combating economic crimes that the majority of economic crimes in Greece were committed in the period 1999-2010, when all "dirty" money was laundered through the banking system. Ioannis Katsipis, who is a permanent member of the financial information investigation unit of the service, and other colleagues of his, stressed the need for legislative changes that will not allow the closure of cases due to statute of limitations.

The parliament has voted a provision, which changes to two years the limitation period of cases the orders for inspection of which were issued before 31 December 2013. However, the new members of the service indicate that many cases filed before 2007 are close to the limitation period, which means that the controlling services will have to focus much of their efforts and checks on them.

The Committee on Institutions and Parliament Transparency was informed that the major problem facing today the service combating money laundering and the other controlling bodies of the Ministry Finance is associated with the delayed response, on the part of the banks, to the requests for verification of suspicious accounts and for providing data on them. It was also mentioned at the meeting that, in the majority of the cases, the data provided by the banks are not subject to processing and the delay of the response can be as long as one year.

"In connection with the "Lagarde list", the commission for preliminary investigation and economic crisis exerted pressure on the banks to respond to the verification requests," said Ioannis Katsipis, noting that the register of bank accounts, which already operates, provides the inspection bodies with data on account balances, holders and co-holders, and on account numbers. It however does not include important data such as bank account movement, which the banks have pledged to enter in the register by 30 September 2014.

"We will be satisfied if the bank account movement is entered in the system by 31 December 2014", said Katsipis.
 
The need for the banks to support the service more was stressed by George Sarandopoulos, a lawyer in the General Directorate for Financial Policy of the Ministry of Finance, who was also appointed a permanent member of the service combating money laundering.

Hariklia Mavridou, Director General of the Tax Administration, said that after July 2013, when the centre that checks large properties was created, it conducted risk analyses for 24,710 cases in which nearly 9 billion euro were exported from the country in the period from 2009 to 2011. "Initially we identified 436 cases but so far we have marked down a total of 1,200 cases," said Hariklia Mavridou, informing that the inspections of such cases have generated revenues in excess of 200 million euro.

In her words, the inspections intensified in 2014 due to the order of the Minister of Finance to complete by the end of May inspections of 500 cases of money transfers carried out between 2009 and 2011.

Moreover, the General Directorate of Tax Administration has recently received orders for inspections by financial prosecutor Panagiotis Athanasiou, and 80 cases from the "Lagarde list" are currently under investigation.

Hariklia Mavridou stressed the existence of problems in the regulatory framework and the lack of staff in view of the fact that the number of tax inspectors was 17,000 until recently whereas now they number around 8,000.

As to the data provided by banks, she stressed that the register of bank accounts is certainly helpful because now every inspector can see the account balances at the end of the year. Hariklia Mavridou however expressed hope that the inspection authorities will obtain the detailed data in a faster manner.

Tags: Dirty money laundringControlling bodiesService combating economic crimes
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