Taxmen face graft charges

Criminal bribery charges were brought yesterday against five Thessaloniki taxmen suspected of demanding 60,000 euros from a businessman in order to write off 216,000 euros he owed in taxes. Police said three of the suspects approached the businessman and asked for the money in order to reduce to a mere 13,920 euros a 230,000 euro accrued debt in overdue taxes, fines and surcharges. After some haggling, the alleged victim brought the price down to 50,000 euros and agreed to hand over the sum in cash in the lift of the Thessaloniki tax office where the suspects worked. But the businessman went to the police, who arrested the tax employees in possession of the notes, whose serial numbers had been noted down in advance. All five denied any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, police arrested an accountant for allegedly arranging a 6,000-euro bribe from another businessman on behalf of the same five taxmen. The businessman was charged with bribe-giving.