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Greece acts on tax evaders

Greece acts on tax evaders



ATHENS – GREECE’S Finance Ministry launched a tax evasion crackdown on itself on Tuesday to investigate hundreds of staff in response to a public outcry over corruption in the crisis-hit country.

Greeks, at the epicenter of fears over European debt, have been hit hard by austerity measures meant to pull the economy out of recession and opinion polls show they demand retribution in a country where corruption is widespread.

‘Restoring transparency in tax collection, as well as the reputation of the tax administration in general, is essential not only for improving public revenues but also in order to instill a sense of social justice and establish a trustworthy relationship between citizens and the state,’ the ministry said.

The internal inquiry will investigate 50 complaints, mostly against tax offices and customs agencies, in cases including accusations of bribery, illegal economic activity, smuggling and corruption, the ministry said in a statement.

It will also investigate 234 employees who have not filed tax declarations for 2007-2008, as well as others at random, and examine the property holdings of 70 employees.

‘The average real estate holdings for these employees is valued at 1,228,337 euros (S$2,141,000), while their average declared income is 50,834 euros,’ the ministry said. The employees have property holdings ranging from 800,000 euros to 3 million euros, it said. To shore up its services and help restore confidence, the ministry said it was completely reorganising tax collection mechanisms and had replaced 20 directors under whose supervision various offices failed to meet collection targets. — REUTERS

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