Public prosecutor to move on tax evasion

It took several requests but the Finance Ministry has finally given Grigoris Peponis, the public prosecutor responsible for investigating economic matters, a list of Greece?s biggest tax evaders, which could soon lead to legal action being launched against them.

Kathimerini understands that Peponis made the first request for the list, which was compiled in July, on October 14 but did not receive a response from the ministry. He then made several more requests, threatening to begin disciplinary action against officials if the list was not sent to him.

According to a statement issued by the Finance Ministry in July, some 900,000 people owe 41.1 billion euros. However, most of this money is owed by a very small number of people: 5 percent of tax dodgers owe 85 percent of the outstanding amount. Just 14,700 individuals, companies or organizations owe 37 billion euros.

There are some 6,500 individuals and 8,200 businesses or organizations that owe the 37 billion euros. Each of these owes more than 150,000 euros but, according to the ministry, some are likely to be public sector organizations while others could be individuals who have died.

Peponis is expected to study the list over the next few days to separate the cases where offenders are liable for immediate prosecution from those where there are still legal obstacles to overcome.

Greece has stepped up its efforts in recent weeks to pursue major tax evaders and is in the process of reaching an agreement with Swiss authorities to obtain the details of Greeks who have moved their money abroad recently.

Sources also told Kathimerini that one of the people on the list that owes the most in taxes is a civil engineer who has been implicated in a trial-fixing ring. The unnamed man is said to owe 86 million euros in unpaid taxes. Two of his associates are also alleged to be on the list of major tax dodgers.