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Greece goes after big tax dodgers

Tax cheats cost $20b per year. Next up: a naming and shaming campaign.
Greece demonstration political reform urgentEnlarge
Demonstrators clash with police on Oct. 20, 2011 in Athens, Greece. Despite another massive bailout, experts are asking, is Greece ungovernable? (Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

Athens – Making good on its vow to stop tax evasion, the Greek government has arrested several high-profile businesspeople alleged to owe millions of dollars to the state.

Tax dodging costs Greece more than $20 billion per year and is one of the reasons why the country is mired in debt and living month-to-month on international bailouts.

The government is also nearly ready to publish the names Greece’s biggest tax evaders. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told parliament last week that the list should be posted online in coming weeks, after final clearance of privacy rights issues.

On Monday, Constantinos Giannikos was arrested for allegedly withholding $1.5 million in value-added tax (VAT), according to the independent Kathimerini newspaper. Giannikos is the president of the private television station Alter.

“This is the result of an outcry by the society that justice is not done,” said Costas Bakouris, chairman of the Greek chapter of Transparency International, an anti-corruption organization. “It’s a step in the right direction, no question about it.”

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