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Greece loses 1.7 billion euro annually from cigarette and fuel smuggling

24 February 2014 / 14:02:07  GRReporter
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The annual profits of fuel and cigarette smugglers have been compensated by the government through the imposition of the extra and regular property tax or by the cuts in the regular and auxiliary pensions as reported by the Greek Ethnos newspaper. According to the authors of the article, the smuggling cost of every Greek household is over 500 euro per year.

The total damage to the state due to fuel smuggling alone is to the amount of 1 billion euro per year and that from cigarette smuggling 700 million euro annually.

In particular, the total amount of the damage to the state due to fuel smuggling, including the loss of income and taxes, amounts to 600 million euro. However, according to market players, it is 1 billion euro, including the alleged "export" of fuel, the exact amount of which is very difficult to calculate.

As indicated, 20% of the annual consumption of fuel oil, which is equivalent to 560,000 cubic metres (data for 2012), is the product of smuggling. The profit for the smugglers is in the range of 90-100 million euro whereas the losses to the treasury amount to 45,360,000 euro.

The measures taken to limit the losses include the compulsory registration of small tankers and oil carriers, the installation of satellite navigation systems on barges as well as stricter control.

As for petrol, the total consumption in the country is 3.5 million cubic metres and the evasion of sales taxes reaches 4%, despite the constant checks. The profits of those involved in the smuggling of this type of fuel amount to 224 million euro (at a price of 1.60 euro per litre) and the losses to the state to 115,360 million euro.

Cigarette smuggling is one of the most profitable "industries" in Greece, from which the state funds lose 700 million euro a year. According to official data, one in five cigarettes in the country is the product of smuggling, the illegal trade in 2013 reaching 13%. By comparison, in 2008 it was only 3% and forecasts for 2014 show that it will reach 23%.

The reason for the flourishing smuggling is the excessive taxation as shown by all studies. In this way, the profits of smugglers and market dealers amount to and exceed 1 euro per pack of cigarettes. Smuggling is usually carried out by cargo ships or "ghost" ships. Once unloaded in Greece the cigarettes are distributed in Northern Europe. The main countries "exporting" contraband cigarettes to Greece are China, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Pakistan. The networks that carry them use ships sailing under 'comfortable' flags in order to reduce the risk to their owners, and declare invalid destinations.

Meanwhile, the investigators in Piraeus have imposed the measure of custody on the persons involved in a fuel smuggling network, who were arrested last week. Among them are president of the ETEKA company for petroleum products and football club "Atromitos" George Spanos, the person in charge of the company warehouse, a customs employee, an engineer and unionist and head of the department for control and management of petroleum products of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Manolis Hatzopoulos.

During the announcement of the decision of the magistrate, relatives of the suspects and ETEKA employees began to violently protest, thus provoking the intervention of the riot police. In parallel, a group of sports fans of "Atromitos" attacked the representatives of the media who had to enter the building of the prosecutor’s office in Piraeus and remain there under police guard.

Tags: Crime newsSmugglingFuelCigarettesDamageTaxes
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