SDOE’s slow progress

Agency chief re­veals only a frac­tion of names on La­garde list have been checked

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Of the 2,062 Greeks named on the La­garde list of de­pos­i­tors with ac­counts in Switzer­land, Greece’s Fi­nan­cial Crimes Squad (SDOE) has so far con­ducted checks on just 266, ac­cord­ing to the agency’s chief, who told MPs yes­ter­day that his ser­vice is suf­fer­ing from a lack of trained per­son­nel.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore Par­lia­ment’s ethics and in­sti­tu­tions com­mit­tee, SDOE head Ste­lios Stasinopou­los faced a bar­rage of ques­tions about the list. He said that he ex­pects 155 of the 266 checks be­ing car­ried out on Greeks with de­posits at the Geneva branch of HSBC to be com­pleted by the end of this month. He added, how­ever, that so far about 10 mil­lion eu­ros that had not been de­clared to au­thor­i­ties was found in the ac­counts of six peo­ple on the list.

Stasinopou­los re­fused to di­vulge the names of the de­pos­i­tors who had hid­den their wealth from Greek tax in­spec­tors. A ju­di­cial coun­cil has ruled that ex-Fi­nance Min­is­ter Gior­gos Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou should stand trial over al­le­ga­tions he re­moved the names of four rel­a­tives from the list he re­ceived from his then French coun­ter­part, Chris­tine La­garde. Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou de­nies the charges and his rel­a­tives in­sist they did not have any un­de­clared money in their Swiss bank ac­counts.

When ques­tioned by MPs about why the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the La­garde list is pro­gress­ing so slowly, Stasinopou­los said that SDOE does not have enough spe­cial­ized per­son­nel. How­ever, he in­sisted that the agency is mak­ing head­way with re­gard to track­ing down un­de­clared as­sets. He said that checks on Greeks who trans­ferred money abroad be­tween 2008 and 2011 re­vealed that some 54,000 peo­ple had moved about 54 bil­lion eu­ros and that tax or penal­ties may be li­able on as much as 22 bil­lion of this.

He added that SDOE had tracked down 52 farm­ers who owe the state 54 mil­lion eu­ros, 18 lawyers who must pay a to­tal of 23 mil­lion eu­ros, as well as oth­ers.

Stasinopou­los, how­ever, added that af­ter SDOE had col­lected ev­i­dence, a lengthy le­gal process of­ten fol­lows be­fore there is a con­vic­tion and the money can be de­posited in pub­lic cof­fers.

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