NEWS

Return taxpayers’ money and avoid jail, suspects told

Greeks who stole taxpayers’ money could avoid serving time in jail if they return the amount, according to an initiative being lined up by the government.

Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis said on Wednesday that if the accused repays the money he or she stole before being questioned by a judge, then the maximum prison sentence that will apply is two years. Two-year terms can be suspended, so the accused might not have to serve time in jail at all.

If the money is repaid by the time the suspect’s trial begins, the maximum sentence will be three years. If the stolen funds are returned during an appeals hearing, the term can be reduced to 10 years, said Roupakiotis. The measure would apply to a range of crimes, including money laundering and tax evasion.

The proposed legislation would also allow the state to seize suspects’ money to cover any losses incurred to taxpayers and return it to them if they are later cleared.