Tuesday September 30, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
26o C
17o 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)  
EU gives more aid to farmers hurt by Russia sanctions
Greeks ruled ship market in August
Nine properties to be auctioned next week
Retail price of milk has dropped by 5-10 pct
Commissioner-designate Avramopoulos to face three-hour interview on EU´s migration portfolio
Greek Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner-designate for migration and home affairs, will be heard by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affai...
Roma camp off Mesogeion Avenue set for demolition amid reactions
A Roma encampment that has stood just off Mesogeion Avenue behind the present-day Nomismatokopio metro station for the best part of 40 years is set for demolition on Tuesday, with residents ...
Inside News
SOCCER
All team sports suspended next weekend in memory of dead fan
The government announced on Monday the suspension of all team sports events in Greece scheduled for next weekend, October 4 and 5, in the memory of the Ethnikos Piraeus fan who died a few ho...
SOCCER
Karamanos punishes Michel for deeming him surplus
Atromitos forced Olympiakos’s first loss this season in all competitions on Saturday to allow PAOK to go alone on top of the Super League table on Sunday. Odds-on title favorite Olympiakos l...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Next-day jitters
It is usual for Greek governments, whether one-party or coalitions (which are normally loath to actually work together), to claim that their only real challenge is dealing with the country’s...
EDITORIAL
No sweet debt deals
The lion’s share of Greece’s debt is held by European Union member states and the International Monetary Fund. A writedown of the European part of the debt would require the approval of the ...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. EU gives more aid to farmers hurt by Russia sanctions
2. Commissioner-designate Avramopoulos to face three-hour interview on EU´s migration portfolio
3. Roma camp off Mesogeion Avenue set for demolition amid reactions
4. Greeks ruled ship market in August
5. Nine properties to be auctioned next week
6. Retail price of milk has dropped by 5-10 pct
more news
Today
This Week
1. Roma camp off Mesogeion Avenue set for demolition amid reactions
2. Next-day jitters
3. No sweet debt deals
4. Commissioner-designate Avramopoulos to face three-hour interview on EU's migration portfolio
5. EU gives more aid to farmers hurt by Russia sanctions
6. The shocking thought of euro-dollar parity
Today
This Week
1. Alexander the Great's tomb not at Amphipolis, says Culture Minister
2. Greece may opt for unusual president to avoid snap polls, Venizelos says
3. Woman allegedly buried alive by accident in northern Greece
4. Salaries in Greece continue to slide, dipping 1.4 pct in Q2
5. Venizelos denies jihadis are being trained in Greece
6. Should you bet with Kissinger on where the world is heading?
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.