Saturday October 25, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
19o C
12o 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)  
TAIPED waits for green light from Eurostat
Trade deficit shrinks on big drop in imports
SMEs unable to claim subsidies
Taxes kept growing in second quarter
Athens, Nicosia satisfied by EU leaders´ stance toward Ankara
A reference in Friday’s European Council conclusions calling on Turkey to respect Cyprus’s sovereign rights left Athens and Nicosia content with the outcome of the European Union leaders’ su...
Suspended policeman chief suspect in cousin’s murder
A 27-year-old police officer who has been suspended from duty since 2013 for extortion, is being treated as the chief suspect in a murder committed in a suburb of Piraeus on Thursday. Police...
Inside News
BASKETBALL
A win is a win is a win for Olympiakos
A bad Olympiakos defeated a worse Laboral Kutxa 63-57 to make it two out of two in the Euroleague on Friday. In a game where the two teams had an overall field goal rate of about one in thre...
SOCCER
Panathinaikos snatches point at Eindhoven
Panathinaikos offered its fans a glimpse of its glorious past in European competitions snatching a draw at PSV Eindhoven, on an otherwise bad night for Greek soccer in the Europa League, as ...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Tension for tension’s sake?
It is evident that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan feeds off tension. He would barely have achieved as much as he has – and prevailed – if he had not been so keen to confront a series...
EDITORIAL
Testing ground
The Regional Authority of Attica is a good testing ground for politicians who appear to thrive on accusations to prove whether they can actually solve major problems of a practical nature. T...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. A win is a win is a win for Olympiakos
2. TAIPED waits for green light from Eurostat
3. Trade deficit shrinks on big drop in imports
4. SMEs unable to claim subsidies
5. Taxes kept growing in second quarter
6. Thessaloniki Port expects 2014 to be record year
more news
Today
This Week
1. Woman killed in tram accident in Floisvo, south of Athens
2. Clocks to go back 1 hour on Sunday
3. Venizelos slams Turkey for 'flagrant violation of international law' off Cyprus
4. ECB vies for third time lucky in European stress tests
5. Cyprus GDP upgrade seen as boosting bailout exit plans
6. ECB bank assessment to show 6-billion-euro capital gap, Citi says
Today
This Week
1. The past, present and future of the Greek debt crisis
2. Greece’s closed society is central to its current malaise
3. Greece must stick to reforms, says Schaeuble
4. At least 11 banks to fail European stress tests, three in Greece, report says
5. Cyprus to block Turkey's EU talks after EEZ violation
6. Samaras’s crumbling Greek exit lacks backing from economists
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.