Of the 2,062 Greeks named on the Lagarde list of depositors with accounts in Switzerland, Greece’s Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) has so far conducted checks on just 266, according to the agency’s chief, who told MPs on Tuesday that his service is suffering from a lack of trained personnel.
Appearing before Parliament’s ethics and institutions committee, SDOE head Stelios Stasinopoulos faced a barrage of questions about the list. He said that he expects 155 of the 266 checks being carried out on Greeks with deposits at the Geneva branch of HSBC to be completed by the end of this month. He added, however, that so far about 10 million euros that had not been declared to authorities was found in the accounts of six people on the list.
Stasinopoulos refused to divulge the names of the depositors who had hidden their wealth from Greek tax inspectors. A judicial council has ruled that ex-Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou should stand trial over allegations he removed the names of four relatives from the list he received from his then French counterpart, Christine Lagarde. Papaconstantinou denies the charges and his relatives insist they did not have any undeclared money in their Swiss bank accounts.
When questioned by MPs about why the investigation into the Lagarde list is progressing so slowly, Stasinopoulos said that SDOE does not have enough specialized personnel. However, he insisted that the agency is making headway with regard to tracking down undeclared assets. He said that checks on Greeks who transferred money abroad between 2008 and 2011 revealed that some 54,000 people had moved about 54 billion euros and that tax or penalties may be liable on as much as 22 billion of this.
He added that SDOE had tracked down 52 farmers who owe the state 54 million euros, 18 lawyers who must pay a total of 23 million euros, as well as others.
Stasinopoulos, however, added that after SDOE had collected evidence, a lengthy legal process often follows before there is a conviction and the money can be deposited in public coffers.