NEWS

Pawnshops dodging their dues

Pawnshops are one of the most visible signs of the crisis in Greece as dozens have opened up over the past few months, but a three-month investigation by the financial crimes squad (SDOE) found that 80 percent of the stores that were checked do not keep proper accounts and are evading taxes.

Sources told Sunday?s Kathimerini that 60 shops, which mostly buy gold jewelry and sovereigns at knockdown prices so the metal can be melted and shipped abroad, were checked around the country and violations were discovered at 48 of them.

In one case, a store exported 135 kilos of gold and 750 kilos of silver — worth an estimated 700,000 euros — to Germany without declaring it. German authorities have been informed and the two sides are working to track down those involved, sources said. Inspectors also traced six offshore companies that are linked to firms that operate pawnshops in Greece.

Thousands of Greeks have turned to pawnbrokers since the start of the crisis as they seek to sell family valuables to raise some cash. ?At the start of the crisis, people would pawn their valuables in the hope of redeeming them at a later date,? one pawnshop owner, who declined to be named, recently told Kathimerini. ?Now, though, they don?t think that they will be able to raise the cash to get them back.?

The prices paid by pawn shops for gold jewelry and sovereigns varies. ?Right now, gold is going for around 20 euros a gram, but there are people who are paying half that price for it,? one expert said.