Au­thor­i­ties probe bo­gus com­pa­nies

Kathimerini English - - Focus -

The In­de­pen­dent Au­thor­ity for Pub­lic Rev­enue is seek­ing out the real own­ers be­hind shell com­pa­nies that owe the Greek state huge amounts of money, and a re­cent ver­dict by the State Le­gal Coun­cil should fa­cil­i­tate the au­thor­i­ties’ search to that end.

The de­ci­sion says that in cases where bo­gus en­ter­prises – set up only to shoul­der a tax­payer’s debts and then al­lowed to go bank­rupt – have ex­pired debts the real own­ers and not those pre­sented as cor­po­rate of­fi­cials (or “front­men”) will be the fo­cus of debt col­lec­tion pro­vided by law, fol­low­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate in­spec­tion process.

Of course the work of the in­spec­tors is far from sim­ple, as the es­tab­lish­ment of the real owner of a com­pany re­quires in-depth in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pos­si­bly tes­ti­monies from the peo­ple who have co­op­er­ated with them in those shell firms or may have had trans­ac­tions with them.

The ex­pired debts that those bo­gus en­ter­prises owe to the Greek state run up to tens of bil­lions of eu­ros. For in­stance, State Au­dit Coun­cil data show that the fines im­posed on bo­gus com­pa­nies for var­i­ous tax regulation vi­o­la­tions alone add up to some 12 bil­lion eu­ros and are grow­ing ev­ery year.

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