For a second time in two months, Greek fashion designer Lakis Gavalas has been convicted of evading taxes, and for a second time has dodged jail. An Athens misdemeanors court on July 19 passed down a five-year suspended prison sentence after finding him guilty of tax evasion for 2012 to the tune of 1.5 million euros, about $1.97 million.
Gavalas wasn’t required to even show up although that may have posed a problem if he were ordered sent to jail. The judge said the convicted tax felon deserved leniency although other Greek courts are hounding tax debtors and seizing their properties for not paying what they owe the state.
The judge rejected the prosecutor’s request for jail time, a rare occurrence in Greece as the government has yet to imprison a single major tax cheat apart from former finance minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who was given an eight-year sentence for failing to declare his wealth. That came as he was already in detention and facing more serious charges of money-laundering and corruption.
Still, Gavalas’ lawyer wasn’t happy. “Instead of Greek justice relentlessly chasing Lakis Gavalas, it can rise to the occasion and help him fulfill his commitments to the Greek state as quickly as possible,” Yiannis Pagoropoulos said.
Gavalas was last month given a seven-year suspended sentence in connection with another unpaid tax bill of some 17 million euros ($22.33 million_ to the state. The businessman offered to transfer his company’s eastern Attica headquarters to the state in exchange for a write-off of its debts, effectively buying his way out of prison, an option not open to people with lesser incomes.
It was not reported whether he has to pay the back taxes otherwise as the court had earlier rejected Gavalas’s request to transfer his company’s headquarters to the state. There was no information on how he would settle what he owes or if he must.
Earlier this year, once-popular singer Tolis Voskopoulos, who was convicted of evading 5.5 million euros ($7.5 million) in taxes and received a suspended three-jail term had all his penalties annulled by the country’s highest court, the Council of State, without any explanation why he was allowed to get off scot free while lesser debtors were being pursued for all they had.
The newspaper Proto Thema reported that it’s not known if he may be fined a smaller, undetermined amount after he earlier had said he’d already spent all the money and couldn’t afford to pay and his popularity has faded over the years.
The lawyer argued too that his client’s income had dwindled significantly over the years and comprised only royalties from his records and 3,500 euros ($4,770) per month from a rented property in Korydallos, near Piraeus.