Billions lost due to slow pace on financial scandals

The failure to finalize and legislate proposals that would allow Greeks suspected of financial misconduct to return money to the state and receive lighter sentences is preventing the government from collecting as much as 2.5 billion euros, judicial sources told Kathimerini.

The government has been sitting for a number of months on plans to allow those facing charges for a series of offenses, including tax evasion and money laundering, to return the money concerned and face a maximum jail sentence of two years.

Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou is hoping to put these proposals into action but the failure to do so until now means that the state is missing out on substantial revenues.

The government also wants to pass legislation that would allow authorities to immediately liquidate the assets of people arrested in connection with financial offenses.

At the moment, the law only allows the assets to be seized, pending trial. It is only once the legal process, which can take several years, has been completed and the suspect convicted that the assets can be liquidated.

For instance, the state has currently frozen 240 million euros’ worth of assets belonging to private energy companies Energa and Hellas Power but cannot use this money until their executives are convicted, even after appeal, of having defrauded the government by failing to pass over property taxes they collected via electricity bills.

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