Monday December 22, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
13o C
8o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Greece seeks deal on Swiss secret funds as tax dodgers targeted

By Christos Ziotis & Marcus Bensasson

Greece’s chronic difficulties with tax evasion will be a topic of discussion on Tuesday when Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras meets his Swiss counterpart Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf in Athens.

While Switzerland’s finance-minister visit is linked to Greece’s six-month presidency of the European Union, Widmer-Schlumpf said on January 25 in Davos that she will discuss Greek assets held with Swiss banks at Tuesday’s meeting. Talks on the issue have stalled since 2012 and progress toward an agreement would provide a boost for the Greek government.

“If this were achieved, it would be a gesture that shows the government wants to move toward a catharsis,” said George Tzogopoulos, a research fellow at the Athens-based Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy. “For public opinion, tax evasion continues to be a problem. An agreement would show that it is determined to deal with the problem.”

Greece has vowed to clamp down on tax evasion as part of its 240 billion-euro ($324 billion) bailout from the euro area and the International Monetary Fund. The country was owed 63 billion euros in unpaid taxes, fines and loans at the end of November, up from 56 billion euros at the start of 2013, according to Finance Ministry data.

Haven reputation

Switzerland is trying to shake off its reputation as a tax haven after amassing $2.2 trillion of assets from wealthy clients living outside the country. It has entered into withholding tax agreements with the U.K. and Austria, while a similar treaty with Germany failed because of parliamentary opposition in Berlin.

Stournaras and Widmer-Schlumpf will meet at 12 noon in the Greek capital and brief the press afterward.

While no official numbers exist, Greeks may have hidden some 42 billion francs ($47 billion) in Swiss accounts, according to a 2009 report from Helvea SA, a Geneva-based brokerage. Former Greek Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis said in April 2012 that a decline in income from retention taxes on Swiss accounts since 2009 showed that Greeks may have been pulling their money out of Switzerland and toward countries not subject to the implementation of EU law.

A European Commission Task Force charged with helping Greece implement structural changes to its economy and public services said in a report in October that there are “signs of increased efficiency” in the country’s tax collection, with the number of completed audits of large taxpayers more than doubling in the first seven months of 2013 compared with 2012. Last year the government appointed Haris Theocharis as general secretary of an independent public revenue authority, one of the country’s bailout conditions.

Fight evasion

The overhaul of the country’s tax system is creating a “robust and stable framework that can support the country’s fiscal adjustment effort, while fairly putting weight on fighting tax evasion,” Stournaras told a parliament committee in November.

Still, for many Greeks who have seen their tax burden increase while wages and pensions are cut, a scandal over the so-called Lagarde list of 2,062 Greeks with deposits at a branch of HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) in Geneva taps into a perception that wealthy Greeks continue to evade taxes. Former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, who negotiated the country’s first bailout in May 2010, is being prosecuted for allegedly removing the name of relatives from the list, which was given to the Greek government by France’s then-finance minister, Christine Lagarde. Papaconstantinou denies any wrongdoing.

In 2009, Switzerland agreed to meet international standards to avoid being blacklisted as a tax haven by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Last year, it also decided to help develop global standards for exchanging data within the framework of the OECD. [Bloomberg]

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday February 4, 2014 (10:43)  
Traders stay focused on Tuesday’s vote
Spanish bond gains push yield to record low as Greek debt rises
Low costs, yield hunt to propel long-term euro zone bond sales in 2015
Greek current account deficit shrinks in October
Bomb hoax at SYRIZA HQ in central Athens
The threat of a bomb being planted at SYRIZA’s headquarters in central Athens proved to be a hoax. The party’s offices on Koumoundourou Square were evacuated at lunchtime on Monday after a c...
DIMAR not poised to break apart, insists spokesman
Democratic Left’s parliamentary spokesman Nikos Tsoukalis has rejected a report claiming that his party may be on the point of breaking apart. “This report is so far from the truth that I do...
Inside News
SOCCER
Special day for Abidal, lucky one for PAOK
PAOK scraped through its Livadia challenge beating Levadiakos to remain on top of the Super League for Christmas, one point ahead of Olympiakos that enjoyed a great game at Kalloni and offer...
BASKETBALL
Explosive Barca unfazed by Panathinaikos, bomb scare
Panathinaikos lost 80-67 at home to Barcelona on Friday in a rather meaningless game at the end of the first group stage of the Euroleague, but the encounter will be remembered for the bomb ...
Inside Sports
INTERVIEW
Klaus Regling stresses debt sustainability through commitment to reforms
BRUSSELS – The man who is responsible for the loans to Greece as managing director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM/EFSF), Klaus Regling, is the only high-ranking European official w...
INTERVIEW
‘Crisis of confidence will come back again and again,’ says Thomas Piketty
He’s treated like a rock star wherever he goes to lecture. His book “Capital in the 21st Century,” a study on income and wealth inequality from the 18th century to the present, recently tran...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Traders stay focused on Tuesday’s vote
2. Bomb hoax at SYRIZA HQ in central Athens
3. DIMAR not poised to break apart, insists spokesman
4. SYRIZA offices in Athens evacuated after bomb threat
5. Spanish bond gains push yield to record low as Greek debt rises
6. Low costs, yield hunt to propel long-term euro zone bond sales in 2015
more news
Today
This Week
1. Prosecutor gathers depositions in Independent Greeks 'bribe' probe
2. Euro shaky on ECB and Greece, dollar keeps edge
3. Government accuses SYRIZA and Independent Greeks of 'clear alliance'
4. Greek parliament vote in balance after Samaras election offer
5. Draghi starts squaring QE circle in month of persuasion for ECB
6. Klaus Regling stresses debt sustainability through commitment to reforms
Today
This Week
1. Samaras summons bond vigilantes with euro exit talk
2. High stakes
3. Europe's drama in Greece needs final act to avoid tragedy
4. A friendly yet firm message from Pierre Moscovici
5. On the edge but not gutless
6. Ship with 200 migrants off Pylos towed to Italy after passengers refuse to stop in Greece
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.