Corruption costs Greece 13 bln euros

Corruption costs Greece 13 bln euros

ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Corruption costs Greece 13 bln euros

Austerity measures to overcome the debt crisis are triggering protests in Greece. AFP photo

Crisis-hit Greece is still losing billions of euros to corruption in spite of efforts to stamp out graft and maximize the state’s tax revenue, a report said yesterday.

The Ta Nea newspaper said that tax evasion cost Greece 13 billion euros ($17.4 billion) annually in lost revenue, citing remarks by experts and state officials at a Tuesday conference.

The finance ministry’s former information systems chief Diomidis Spinellis, who resigned in October, told the conference that the state is often able to claim only 20 percent of fines imposed on tax cheats. Another 40 percent is commonly written off and the remaining 40 percent is pocketed by the tax official in charge of the procedure, Spinellis said.

And when the state is called upon to repay the tax, 10 percent of the sum is embezzled by corrupt officials, the head of investigations at Greece’s anti-fraud squad (SDOE) Nikos Lekkas told the conference.

Greece’s shadow economy is believed to represent around a third of the official economy, which is mired in a deep recession as the government struggles to apply a tough economic overhaul supervised by its international creditors, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Ta Nea added that a much-touted parallel drive publicly to identify state debtors had so far yielded insignificant results.