Swiss banking officials have rejected a request by Greek politicians and their spouses to provide written proof they do not have secret accounts, a request they made after a Swiss politician said some of them had deposited cash to avoid paying taxes in their homeland.
The Greek government has also been seeking information on whether Greeks had accounts in Swiss banks but negotiations have floundered. It is not against the law for Greeks to have accounts in foreign countries if they are declared, but suspicion is widespread in Greece that many politicians and the rich elite store their monies in Switzerland and other countries to evade taxes, which robs Greece of $70 billion a year in critical revenues.
More than 300 Greek lawmakers and their spouses had asked the Swiss Bankers’ Association in April to help clear them, but Reuters reported that Parliamentary records showed it was declined, without providing further details.
Greeks are furious that they have been hit with waves of austerity measures while they believe the country’s politicians and business executives have escaped and stashed money away outside Greece at the same time the government was pleading for citizens to keep their money in the country.
The Swiss Banking Association (SBA) turned down the request for written records, saying it could not forward requests of “such general content” to all its members. “Swiss banks are not obligated to issue confirmations that a certain person does not hold an account with them,” it said in a letter to Greek Parliament distributed to reporters. “In fact, some banks have policies in place, not to issue such a negative confirmation.”
More than 90 billion euros ($118.33 billion) have left Greek banks since the start of the country’s debt crisis in late 2009, about a third of the total. Wealthy Greeks are believed to have stashed some of that in Swiss banks without declaring them to Greek tax authorities. Athens is currently in talks with Bern to tax that money along the lines of a similar Swiss-German deal.
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