Germany helps Greece deal with tax avoidance by providing names of more than 10,000 tax dodgers

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Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) chats with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to a meeting over the Balkan refugee crisis with leaders from central and eastern Europe at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 25, 2015. Reuters/Eric Vidal

Germany has provided Greece with more than 10,000 names of individuals and companies suspected of stashing away billions in Swiss bank accounts to dodge tax. The move was a friendly gesture from Germany’s side to help the country raise tax revenues from illegally stored away money by its own citizens.

The Greek finance department has been forwarded the inventory with the details of bank accounts that are worth €3.6 billion ($5.28 billion), almost twice the final instalment that Greece derived from its creditors this week.

“This is an important step for the Greek government to create more honesty regarding tax in the country,” the Guardian quoted Norbert Walter-Borjans, finance minister of the regional state of North Rhine-Westphalia, as saying. The data has been disclosed by the state through the federal tax office of Germany.

The Swiss bank rules that safeguard information on its customers allowed a huge number of foreigners to store away huge sum of money in the bank with the intentions of avoiding taxes. But Swiss banks have in recent times signed a number of agreements pledging to cooperate with foreign tax authorities in their pursuit against tax avoidance.

Walter-Borjans said in a statement on Wednesday that the data will help the Greece government achieve more tax honesty.

The total of 10, 588 names that make up the list comprises of individuals belonging to the higher echelons of the Greek society. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised to do away with the oligarchy system still running in Greece.

While the richest are happily stashing away their excesses in foreign bank accounts, it is the ordinary Greeks who have been bearing the brunt of the recession that is running its sixth year. Introduction of new tax levies formed the basis of the deal that enable Greece to stay within the Eurozone. German Chancellor Angela Merkel extended her help to the Greek government to bring to the front those who have denied their responsibility to pitch in.

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