Finance Ministry’s tax chief quits after charges

The Finance Ministry official in charge of tax and customs affairs, Yiannis Kapeleris (photo), resigned on Monday following pressure from Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who reacted to a prosecutor issuing charges of breach of faith against the public servant in connection with canceled fines for fuel traders.

Venizelos asked Kapeleris to resign after financial prosecutor Grigoris Peponis issued the charges against the Finance Ministry?s general secretary for tax and customs affairs on Monday afternoon.

Kapeleris is accused of issuing an order to cancel the collection of some 15 million euros in fines relating to illegal fuel trade from just over 3,500 gas stations. However, the association representing gas station owners said that the penalties were of a technical nature that related to the recording of details on the Hephaestus electronic system, where sales of vehicle fuel and heating oil were recorded.

The failure to collect the fines allegedly prompted the resignation of Diomidis Spinellis, the former general secretary of information systems at the Finance Ministry. The incident was investigated by Peponis, leading to Monday?s charges.

It was the latest development in a busy few days for Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis, Greece?s other prosecutor responsible for investigating financial crimes, including tax evasion. The pair withdrew their resignations, which had been prompted by alleged interference in their work, after being assured their duties would not be transferred to the Supreme Court.

However, they both expressed surprise that the Supreme Court wrapped up a probe into their claims without giving them a chance to submit evidence. They suggested that they could submit a fresh complaint.

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