PM backs minister on criticism of audit ruling


Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday threw his support behind outspoken Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis after the latter criticized a recent court decision that essentially thwarts the government’s hopes of securing a windfall from tax audit revenues.

In a post on his Facebook page on Thursday, Polakis had criticized the decision by the Council of State by means of a poem that slams Greek judges and suggests they are beholden to major business and media interests. The union of judges hit back at the posting, describing Polakis’s criticism as “ignorant.”

During a visit to the Health Ministry on Friday, Tsipras backed Polakis in the dispute. “Despite the difficulties that we constantly face, we ignoramuses manage and often overcome institutional obstacles which… often set up obstacles before us.”

The comments came following news of the court’s decision which was made public earlier this week and which will result in hundreds of thousands of tax audits being canceled. According to the ruling, any audits conducted that stretch back beyond a five-year limit have been deemed unconstitutional.

According to the court’s decision, the state’s audits must be conducted within a “reasonable” time frame. This, it said, is in view of the fact that the audits are now far easier to conduct than in the past.

The decision is expected to affect cases involving people included on lists of large account holders abroad, such as the so-called Lagarde List, which includes wealthy Greek depositors with Swiss bank accounts.

The list, which was given to Greek authorities in 2010 by then French finance minister Christine Lagarde, features 2,062 accounts linked to 1,725 individuals and businesses.

Responding to the premier’s comments on Friday, the main conservative opposition New Democracy accused him of “identifying with the most extreme political figures.”

“After his support for Mr Kammenos, today he shows us that the same applies for Mr Polakis,” ND said, referring to Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, another outspoken politician who is Tsipras’s coalition partner.

“Apart from permanent austerity, we also have permanent vulgarity,” ND added.