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Greeks Must Declare Foreign Bank Accounts

In yet another attempt to pursue possible tax evaders, and in the aftermath of failures to check secret bank accounts of Greeks in other countries, the Finance Ministry is sending out letters to 15,000 people who were found to have moved money abroad without declaring it to tax authorities.
Some 5 billion euros ($6.37 billion) was not declared, the authorities said, and the government hopes to collect 2.25 billion euros ($2.87) from the secret accounts. The depositors will be asked to submit an additional declaration of assets within three weeks of receiving the ministry request.
Depositors who question the Finance Ministry data will have to provide evidence that their money has already been taxed. The government did not indicate if those who have evaded taxes will be prosecuted, an infrequent occurrence although tax cheats owe the country $70 billion.
Despite 2 ½ years of austerity measures demanded by international lenders, who have also put pressure on the government to chase tax cheats, Greece’s economy is still slipping and successive governments have done little to find undeclared revenues.
The government still hasn’t acted on checking a list of 2,059 Greeks with $1.95 billion in deposits in the Geneva, Switzerland branch of HSBC Bank, first revealed by a journalist who was acquitted of charges of violating their privacy, although he said the government should have pursued them and not him.
Financial prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis were expected to receive this week the original version of the data before deciding whether charges should be pressed against any of those on the list. Another 97 Greeks have been found to have $28.6 billion in HSBC’s bank in Jersey, a UK tax haven.
Greece’s international lenders have been pressing successive governments since 2010 to rein in tax evasion and while there have been occasional arrests and round-ups, no major evader has been prosecuted and the cases face court delays of up to a decade or more.

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