Prosecutors investigating a list of 2,602 Greeks with 1.5 billion euros ($1.95 billion) in secret Swiss bank accounts have reportedly found that 90 percent of them are tax cheats.
The ongoing probe by financial prosecutors, Panagiotis Athanasiou and Galinos Mpris in cooperation with the Deputy Prosecutor Giannis Dragatsis, has uncovered another 80 cases of alleged cheats who owe 39.892 million euros.
They are on the so-called Lagarde List, named for former French finance minister Christine Lagarde who handed it to then Greek finance chief Giorgos Papaconstantinou in 2010.
He said it vanished but a copy on a memory stick was produced by his successor Evangelos Venizelos, now the PASOK Socialist leader and Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister in the coalition government headed by Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras.
Papconstantinou is being charged with a number of crimes, which he has denied, after the names of three of his relatives were found to have been erased from the list that came off a stolen CD from the Geneva branch of HSBC.
Lagarde, now head of the International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s international lenders, said the names were part of a larger list and that other countries had used it to vet for tax cheats and prosecute evaders but Greek officials – including Venizelos, who is not being prosecuted – set it aside until the names were revealed by investigative journalist Costas Vaxevanis.
Among the cases is that of a dentist residing in the southern suburbs of Athens, who, along with his wife, allegedly evaded 13 million euros between 2002 and 2012, some 8,822,758 euros by him and 4,589,281 euros by his wife, who owns a dental implant company.
Investigators are also looking into secret accounts in banks in other countries, including Cyprus, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Austria.
The alleged cheats have been asked by officials at the Greek Financial and Economic Crimes Unit (SDOE) to pay what they owe or face criminal charges. It was not reported why they aren’t being prosecuted for tax evasion even if they return the money or if they would face additional penalties.
The investigation is proceeding by the financial prosecutors who have been investigating the bank accounts of major businessmen, publishers, ship-owners and industrialists along with their relatives. Some of them had been implicated in major financial scandals the past years.