Sunday December 21, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
17o C
10o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
A sad testament to the state of affairs in Greece

By Alexis Papachelas

The only real political issue in the entire Lagarde list affair is whether the Greek state could have used it earlier to locate large-scale tax evaders and recover a significant amount of lost revenues. That opportunity was obviously lost and did not reappear until recently.

The truth is however that this is not a simple process. Even countries with extensive experience in clamping down on tax evasion have stumbled over the plethora of legal and other obstacles that come with the use of data acquired through unofficial channels. They ultimately used the data as leverage against people who could not justify the size of their Swiss deposits.

The excuses heard in Greece over why the list was not used to this end vary. Some say that they did not trust the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) to deal with the issue and believed the list could be ill-used to blackmail the innocent along with the guilty. Others claimed that the list could not be used as evidence in a court of law and was therefore useless.

If the former is true, then one cant help but wonder why a minister would agree to oversee a service that he viewed as unreliable. If the latter is true, then the serious question arises of which state service gave the impression in the first place that the list could be used.

Everything about this affair is wrong, because politicians and state officials are unaccustomed to having to work in a serious and methodical manner, with some degree of respect for protocol. If former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou had simply filled out a form confirming that he had passed on the list to the Financial Crimes Squad, then he wouldnt be in this mess and we wouldnt have seen SDOE lose credibility. He could also have avoided a lot of problems if he was surrounded by experienced aides with knowledge of administrative procedure and law. But many ministers forget how ephemeral their role is and that they need to follow certain rules.

On the other hand, cynics (or realists) would argue that Greece does not have the overt or covert services to handle complex, sensitive matters such as these, which, moreover, have an international dimension. They see efforts to get the list from the French authorities as overly optimistic because they dont believe that we have the know-how and experience to use it. As unfair as this accusation sounds, it unfortunately contains a grain of truth.

Who is to blame for Greece coming to this? The same politicians who are today paying the price, either on an individual level or as part of the system of power. They are the ones who dismantled the public administration so they could keep their cronies close at hand; they messed with the Financial Crimes Squad to serve their own interests and they created a system where so many could get away with so much.

ekathimerini.com , Sunday Jan 6, 2013 (15:02)  
The big picture
Get your facts straight
New weapons of diplomacy
Oblivious to change
Environment Ministry to reconsider controversial bill
The government over the weekend appeared to backpedal on proposed amendments widely seen as compromising legislation protecting Greek forests as well as Plaka, Athenss old quarter. The bill...
Corfu to host countrys first hydroplane strip
Merchant Marine Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis and Deputy Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michalis Papadopoulos have signed a decision paving the way for the countrys first hydroplan...
Inside News
Workers rush to get early retirement
Nine out of 10 workers who retired in the last four months who had belonged to the former special funds of banks and state corporations that have now been incorporated in the Social Security...
Piraeus Containter Terminal goes from strength to strength
Piraeus Container Terminal, the local subsidiary of Chinese giant Cosco Pacific, is expected to handle a total of over 3 million containers in the January-December period of this year. The J...
Inside Business
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 ...
SOCCER
Abidal cuts short playing career at Olympiakos
Former France and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal announced his retirement from football on Friday, a day before his last match. Abidal said he will finish after playing for Olympiakos agains...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Environment Ministry to reconsider controversial bill
2. Corfu to host countrys first hydroplane strip
3. Political upheaval sharpens after bribe claims with threats and insinuations
4. Police gets new communications system
5. Most Greeks say they recycle daily
6. Probe into revenues of 2 mln euros in Halkidiki municipality
more news
Today
This Week
1. Get your facts straight
2. The big picture
3. Political upheaval sharpens after bribe claims with threats and insinuations
4. Environment Ministry to reconsider controversial bill
5. Changes on E9 property declarations possible until end-year
6. Police gets new communications system
Today
This Week
1. Samaras summons bond vigilantes with euro exit talk
2. A friendly yet firm message from Pierre Moscovici
3. Europe's drama in Greece needs final act to avoid tragedy
4. High stakes
5. On the edge but not gutless
6. Gap between SYRIZA and New Democracy closing, says poll
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.