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The IMF is also involved in the concealment of the "Lagarde List"

22 January 2013 / 18:01:13  GRReporter
4029 reads

Victoria Mindova

New revelations on the case of the "Lagarde List" containing the names of 2,062 Greeks with fat accounts in a Swiss bank involved the name of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the scandal, which has been tearing Greece in recent weeks. SYRIZA deputy Zoe Konstantopoulou presented new facts for the intervention of Greece’s institutional lenders in the affair with the widely discussed list, which had not previously been known to the public. GRReporter asked the radical left for detailed explanations of the grounds on which the scandalous revelations had been presented.

SYRIZA refers to the testimony of an employee of the tax services who was responsible for the taxation of the rich citizens in Greece. According to his testimony before the financial prosecutors in April 2012, the specific employee had requested the names on the "Lagarde List" from the Finance Minister at the time Filippos Sahinidis and his deputy Pantelis Ikonomou.

The employee said he had requested the "Falciani List" (which is another name for the "Lagarde List") in October 2010. The specialised department responsible for the taxation of people with assets of high value had not received official information about the list of names of Greek citizens with bank accounts for millions abroad.

The testimony suggests that the presence of a list of millions of euro exported from Greece had reached the tax services due to publications in the press in the autumn of 2010. First, the specialised department requested access to the list from the head of the tax office at the time, Yiannis Kapeleris. He replied that the data was kept in the Ministry of Finance and he forwarded them to the office of the Minister. They turned to the relevant ministry to obtain information.

Referring to the testimony of the tax officers before the prosecutors, Konstantopoulou explained that the tax inspectors responsible for the control of large property had wanted to add the names on the "Lagarde List" to their plan of tax inspections drawn by the Ministry of Finance. Their demands, however, had been consistently ignored and they had been kept in the dark as regards the matter.

Zoe Konstantopoulou said that once the employees had not received assistance from the Ministry of Finance they turned to Chris Pigalle, who according to the testimony had been the representative of the IMF in Greece at that time. His office was on the fourth floor of the Ministry of Finance, which means that only two floors separated it from the minister’s office.

"The representative of the IMF had smartly explained to them that he knew about the list and equally smartly had tried to discourage them in the search of the "Lagarde List", arguing that it was a government matter," said the deputy of SYRIZA.

GRReporter tried to find information about Chris Pigalle and his term in Athens, but to no avail. His name did not appear on the IMF website or in publications associated with the activities of the Fund in the country.

The radical left, which is now the main opposition party in the coalition government, is convinced that there is reason to believe that the representatives of the foreign lenders are involved in the attempts to cover up the names on the "Lagarde List". SYRIZA members are adamant that the list contains the names of persons and businessmen closely linked to the old political system in the country. They insist that their cover up is a top priority of the government and the financial supervisors.

"If not only government members, but also members of the supervisory Troika contributed to hampering the fight against tax fraud when it was the main task of the country, it means that we have a very serious problem," summarized Konstantopoulou. She explained that SYRIZA had specifically raised the issue of the involvement of the IMF in the disclosure or concealment of the "Lagarde List", but had received no reply so far.

Currently, the National Assembly is forming a special government commission to investigate the criminal responsibility of former Minister of Finance George Papakosntantinou in connection with the "Lagarde List". He is accused of deleting three names of three relatives of his from the original copy of the list. The parliamentary opposition wants to seek not only criminal, but also political responsibility of the government in the period 2010-2012 for an attempt to cover up the Greeks with fat bank accounts in Switzerland.

"The "Lagarde List" case is just the tip of the iceberg," said a deputy from the left wing. He insists that the free movement of capital cannot be a cover for the concealment of undeclared income, which is suspected in the "Lagarde List" case.

Although the data from the widely discussed list is already in the public domain, the people on it have not yet been subject to tax inspections. Its existence has caused serious political conflicts, but has not led to real measures to combat tax violations. The political opponents in the country  have found a new arena for paying off old scores without paying proper attention to one of the most serious problems facing Greece today - tax evasion as a national characteristic.

Tags: EconomyMarketsIMFCrisisLagarde ListTax fraud
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