NEWS

Financial prosecutors ask PM for more staff

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Early last week, Greece’s financial prosecutors sent a long letter to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, urging him to appoint more inspectors and expert staff to boost their efforts to raise much-needed revenue from tax evasion, Kathimerini understands.

The 26-page letter, the second to be sent to Tsipras this year, was signed by key financial prosecutor Panayiotis Athanasiou and his colleagues. It states that it is “absolutely necessary” to increase the ranks of the staff appointed to probe a series of lists of possible tax evaders.

Apart from the so-called Lagarde List of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, several other lists of Greeks with deposits or assets in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom have come under the scrutiny of authorities. But only a fraction of the names have been probed due to a lack of staff. According to prosecutors’ estimates, at least 300 trained inspectors and IT experts must be recruited if the probes are to start raising a significant amount of revenue. Technical equipment is lacking too, the prosecutors say.

Cracking down on tax evasion, particularly among rich Greeks, was a key pre-election promise by Tsipras. But there has been little effective action despite the claim by the former minister of state for combating corruption, Panayiotis Nikoloudis, that 2.5 billion euros can be raised. So far the probe has yielded just a fraction of this sum, with some 80 million euros netted from the Lagarde List.