Saturday February 28, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
11o C
6o 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)  
Greece seeks negotiations on ECB bond repayment
Piraeus plans are coming in next few weeks
Slowdown in tourism bookings from Germany
Economy grew by 1.3 pct in Q4 of last year
Alleged accomplices of N17´s Xeros caught in Athens
One man was arrested and another detained in Athens on Saturday in connection to the November 17 terrorist Christodoulos Xeros, who was recaptured in January after a year on the run. Accordi...
Hellas Gold and workers react to Greek gov´t decision on plan permit
Hellas Gold and its workers at the gold mine in Skouries, Halkidiki, have vowed to take legal action after the government announced on Friday that it would be recalling the permit for a proc...
Inside News
BASKETBALL
Spanoulis leads Olympiakos to win over Malaga
A good second half was enough for Olympiakos to get the better of Unicaja Malaga (77-72) and score its seventh win in eight games at the second group stage of the Euroleague on Friday. Playi...
SOCCER
Ten-man Olympiakos couldn´t overcome Dnipro
Olympiakos drew 2-2 with Dnipro from Ukraine at home on Thursday, playing almost the entire second half with a man down, to bow out of the Europa League, despite facing an opponent which on ...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
A unionist agenda
Maybe Greece will not experience a credit event, “because it is in no one’s interest,” as Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris recently assured. Maybe...
EDITORIAL
The beguiling limelight
Too much media exposure is never a good thing and there is no shortage of newcomers in politics who are beguiled by the limelight. What usually comes after this thrall of publicity is the in...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Alleged accomplices of N17´s Xeros caught in Athens
2. Hellas Gold and workers react to Greek gov´t decision on plan permit
3. Greek ministry says teacher hirings to continue via ASEP
4. Women conned elderly Cretans by posing as church representatives
5. Spain, Portugal sought to trip up gov’t, Tsipras says
6. Police nab Kavala man over homegrown cannabis
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greece seeks negotiations on ECB bond repayment
2. A unionist agenda
3. Spain, Portugal sought to trip up gov’t, Tsipras says
4. Hellas Gold and workers react to Greek gov't decision on plan permit
5. Greek ministry says teacher hirings to continue via ASEP
6. Women conned elderly Cretans by posing as church representatives
Today
This Week
1. Time for Alexis Tsipras to keep his nerve
2. Greek bailout deal faces review by euro officials next week
3. Greece says eurozone deal won time as cash bled from banks
4. The ignorance of the West about the culture of Islam
5. A fierce battle looms
6. Spain said to lead push to hold Greece to terms as Podemos grows
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.