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Two Greeks among the biggest tax offenders in the United Kingdom in 2012

08 January 2013 / 19:01:33  GRReporter
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The HM Revenue & Customs department has announced the names of 32 top tax criminals who would have cost the island tens of millions of euro if they had not been captured in 2012. Among them, are two Greeks who were arrested and sentenced to 10 years in jail. Andreas Apostolidis, 64, and Costas Georgiou, 74, were arrested in an attempt to smuggle 24 million cigarettes imported illegally into the country.

The losses from the unpaid duty and excise duty on the illegal cigarettes seized during the operation against the two Greeks would have exceeded £4 million as stated on the website of the department.

"This was organized crime on an industrial scale. Their plans were extremely well engineered in their bid to saturate the Midlands with illicit cigarettes - most of which were counterfeit. This was all about lining their own pockets and they had no regard to the potential harm such criminal activity causes to individuals, communities and legitimate businesses," said the Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, Paul Barton.

Policemen from the special forces report that Apostolidis and Georgiou were the masterminds behind the plot for the smuggling of the illegal cigarettes. They formed the Bellgate company in 2002 and in 2009, they formed another company called Orion. These companies were used to front their smuggling activity and to present themselves as legitimate importers and businessmen in the country. The main activities declared to the authorities were import and trade of Greek dry pasta, and import and trade of stoneware from China.
 
In 2012, the two citizens of Greek origin were found guilty on charges of conspiring to cover up the smuggling in order to evade the payment of duty and they were sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Last year, 32 people committed the worst tax crimes in the United Kingdom. Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, states that the government is determined to tackle tax crime. The 32 criminals have been sentenced to more than 150 years collectively. Gouke believes that making public the photographs of tax evaders will not only constitute a public censure of the criminals, but also a message to others not to be tempted to undertake similar initiatives.

In Greece, the practice of making public the names and faces of tax criminals is still new. Analysts believe that Greece should learn from the example of the United Kingdom and begin to spread a rating of the most dangerous tax offenders who were sentenced during the year. This will create a sense of justice in the citizens who regularly pay their taxes and feel cheated when tax offenders remain unpunished. For the time being, the law on personal data protection in the Mediterranean country is more a hindrance than an advantage in the creation of a sense of justice in the people of Greece.

Tags: Crime newsTax crimesGreeceUnited Kingdom
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