Fraud, tax evasion rampant in Attica

Checks on the accounting practices of companies in the Attica area over Christmas revealed that more than half of them were evading taxes, authorities told Kathimerini yesterday. Investigations by the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) on some 516 firms in and around Athens last month found that 282 (54 percent) were involved in some kind of tax evasion. Each of the defaulting companies was also discovered to be in breach of at least nine accounting practices. In total, SDOE ran some 2,768 checks around the country during December, recording 4,251 offenses that were committed by 755 businesses – meaning that over a quarter of firms investigated in Greece were found to be engaging in some kind of fraud. SDOE also conducted almost 15,000 checks on goods being transported by land and sea. Officers recorded some 766 offenses. Intensive and unannounced checks are set to continue during the first quarter of this year, with some 3,744 squads looking into the financial activities of up to 11,000 companies. Construction firms, businesses providing services and gas stations are the key targets. Meanwhile, the Economy and Finance Ministry is intending to form a successor to SDOE which will focus on tackling money laundering and related criminal activities of a financial nature as well as keeping an eye on stockmarket transactions and the use of EU funds. The new body will be made up of personnel with experience in the worlds of finance and technology. The force will have two offices, one in Athens and the other in Thessaloniki.