NEWS

Fresh offensive targets tax cheats

A crackdown by state inspectors on hundreds of companies and self-employed professionals believed to have used bogus invoices to evade some 2 billion euros in taxes has led to dozens of individuals being indicted on criminal charges, Kathimerini has learned. An Athens prosecutor has already drawn up 338 charges of tax evasion and Finance Ministry inspectors are looking into dozens of additional cases. According to sources, the ministry suspects that the use of bogus invoices to evade taxes is far more widespread than the simpler method of concealing sources of income by not declaring them. Ministry inspectors have been conducting raids on the premises of several suspicious businesses, chiefly doctors’ and lawyers’ private practices. Many are believed to have been paying third parties to provide them with bogus invoices so they could report lower revenues and pay less income tax. The ministry is also seeking those alleged to have issued these bogus invoices. Most of the latter are self-employed professionals and are believed to have made a healthy second income by charging would-be tax evaders for their illicit services, sources said. In a related development, the state yesterday took control of five properties belonging to popular singer Tolis Voskopoulos and his wife, former Deputy Culture Minister Angela Gerekou, with the aim of auctioning them off to recoup some of the 5.5 million euros the singer is alleged to owe the tax office. It is thought the auction will raise at least 3.5 million euros. Last month, the singer lodged seven appeals against the tax evasion charges that have been brought against him. The country’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, is to hear the appeals of the 70-year-old singer in October.