Greece, Germany step up fight against tax evasion

Greece, Germany step up fight against tax evasion

ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Greece, Germany step up fight against tax evasion

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) meets German Finance minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state Norbert Walter-Borjans, in his office in Athens on January 16, 2016, as Germany and Greece signed a joint declaration on tax evasion. AFP photo

Greek and German authorities agreed Jan. 16 to step up their cooperation on tax evasion, with information supplied by Germany already being used to probe thousands of Greeks suspected of stashing money in Swiss accounts.

The agreement signed at a ceremony in Athens attended by Norbert Walter-Borjans, finance minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia commits the two countries to share information on insolvent companies and tax management systems.

Greek tax inspectors will also receive training in Germany.

Walter-Borjans, who has handed Athens the names of more than 10,000 Greeks suspected of hiding 4 billion Swiss francs (3.7 bn euros) from tax authorities, said the declaration sent “a message of closer cooperation between Greek and German authorities to combat tax evasion more effectively.”  
Greek deputy justice minister Dimitris Papaguelopoulos said he hoped what he called the “Borjans list” would mark the start of “a long cooperation with North Rhine-Westphalia, which is to the fore in the fight against tax evasion.”   

The German minister later held talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has vowed to crack down on tax dodgers, one of several requirements of Greece’s latest international bailout.

“Contrary to previous governments the political will to accelerate controls and fight tax evasion is now there,” deputy Greek finance minister Tryfonas Alexiadis said.

In December, German prosecutors uncovered details of at least 200 suspected tax dodgers at an Athens branch of Swiss bank UBS. Their Swiss accounts had deposits ranging between 1.5 million and 12 million euros, according to judicial estimates.