The Best of GRReporter
flag_bg flag_gr flag_gb

Tax officers with their own offshore companies in the spotlight of the prosecution

09 January 2012 / 18:01:50  GRReporter
2972 reads

Five present and two former tax officials were entangled in yet another corruption scandal, which came to the surface after the threats for the resignations of the economic prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spiros Mouzakitis. One of the tax officials under investigation is the owner of an offshore company which, according to the investigation information, had been making deals for millions of euro and is the owner of luxury hotels and apartments in Greece.

The main activity of the company in question has been trade and management of real estate properties scattered throughout the country. The Executive Director of the company, owned by one of the tax officers, is now accused of a fraud, which is considered a felony, in another case of corruption, and in the period before the entry of Greece into the eurozone he was in close relations with a Greek minister. Local media did not mention any names, but presumably he was the Minister of Finance because of direct communication with the tax services.

The investigation shows that close relatives of the supervisors are owners of luxury villas, hotels and houses that cannot be justified by their legally declared annual income.

A key character in that particular story is a former tax inspector who had twice filed a complaint in the district court on charges of corruption activities by her colleagues, but the defendants were found not guilty. In 2001, the already retired tax officer had refused to reduce the fine of a company-violator, which had to pay 12.5 billion drachmas or 36 million euro.

"We did not expect you. We had arranged a meeting with another tax officer". This is what the managers of the offending company said, having arrived for the scheduled tax inspection.

The clerk said that after she found the violations and indicated the amount of the fine according to the law, she was pressured to change her decision in the report. The testimony, cited by Ethnos, reads: "I went into the office where I met my direct boss and the inspector. They told me, that I would rewrite my report, which will provide for a fine of only 4.5 billion drachmas" or one-third of the legally estimated amount. The inspector will then review the report and reduce the fine to 2.8 billion drachmas, and eventually it may not even be paid.

The tax inspector was even threatened with imprisonment if she continued to dig into the case and did not follow the directions given to her. She suffered a series of disciplinary sanctions. She did not succumb to the threats and filed two consecutive complaints against her corrupted colleagues. The charges suggested that a deliberate reduction of taxes had been made on the privately owned company, which deprived the state of revenues to the amount of almost 28 million euro for a period of several years.

Complaints investigation was deliberately delayed. After a long dragging out finally the defendants were twice found not guilty by the Court of Appeal. There was insufficient evidence that the tax officers were guilty on the corruption charges. After the end of the second case, the defendants said: "The information stated about us is incorrect. We were doing our job efficiently and in record time. For the good inspection we ought to have been complimented. We acted in favor of the state." The judge who viewed the case was a close relative of the wife of one of the accused tax officials.

Instead of the tax officials accused of corruption being investigated, a fine was imposed on the retired tax officer because she did not declare a bank account which she shared with her mother, containing three euors. Eleven years after the tax fraud was revealed, the case is being sent back to the courtroom. On Friday 13th January 2012 it will be open for the third time and now the economic prosecutor Grigoris Peponis is the person in charge of it. Everyone awaits its development.

 

Tags: economy crime news corruption tax officers Greece
SUPPORT US!
GRReporter’s content is brought to you for free 7 days a week by a team of highly professional journalists, translators, photographers, operators, software developers, designers. If you like and follow our work, consider whether you could support us financially with an amount at your choice.
Subscription
You can support us only once as well.
blog comments powered by Disqus