Blaming Venizelos Over Swiss Bank List, Ragousis Quits PASOK

Angered that his party’s leader, who, as a former finance minister, failed to act on a list of 2,000 Greeks with 1.5 billion euros ($1.93 billion) in deposits in a Swiss bank to check for possible tax evasion, Yiannis Ragousis, a prominent PASOK Socialist minister has bolted from the party.

Ragousis said he was leaving because he was disappointed in his leader, Evangelos Venizelos, who earlier this week turned over the list to government officials. The names had been on a CD given to former finance minister George Papaconstantinou by his French colleague at the time, Christine Lagarde, who has become the head of the IMF, one of the Troika members putting up $325 billion in two bailouts to keep Greece from defaulting.

Papaconstantinou said the CD had gone missing after it was passed on to the financial crimes squad SDOE, prompting current Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras to say he’d find it, but then Venizelos stepped up and presented a memory stick he said had the names. Venizelos had defended his decision not to use the information because it was unlawfully obtained, but Lagarde said it could have been properly used as an instrument to determine whether there had been any tax evasion.

The news came as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partners – Venizelos and Democratic Left head Fotis Kouvelis – have agreed on a $17.4 billion to cut spending again and raise taxes in another austerity program while tax evaders who owe the country some $70 billion have largely escaped prosecution.

Samaras is also trying to fend off another potential scandal, that SDOE has another list, this one of 33 politicians with large bank accounts for which they can’t account. That led the President of the Parliament and one of Samaras’ key allies in New Democracy, Evangelos Meimarakis, to suspend himself until the probe is done.

In his announcement, Ragousis referred to his own official role as transport minister at a time when he was obliged to “agree on salary and pension cuts in order for Greece to remain on its feet,” while he considered all that was being confirmed through the list as “politically immoral” and “shockingly unfair to society.”

Venizelos said that he had received the list from SDOE chief Yiannis Diotis in August 2011. According to Ragousis, the existence of the list underlined the decisiveness or not to battle tax evasion with the same severity used to reduce incomes and impose new tax hikes.”

Venizelos said that Diotis had informed him of the contents of the list in August 2011, but had expressed the opinion that the CD was presented to him “unofficially” by Papaconstantinou and that the data contained on it “do not constitute a record that was submitted by due legal process to my service and therefore cannot be subject to legal inquiry and certainly not to publication.

On Oct. 2, he repeated what he said were reservations from Diotis about the legality of the list and said that any questionable use of the data could jeopardize Greece’s efforts to convince Swiss authorities to release the details of account holders in the country who are suspected to tax evasion or other financial crimes.

“Our main priority then as now is to strike a bilateral agreement between Greece and Switzerland to tax the deposits of Greeks in Switzerland along the same lines of similar agreements signed with Germany and the United Kingdom,” Venizelos said. “I hope that the agreement will be completed soon and will benefit public revenues,” he added.

The deposits were made into the Geneva branch of HSBC and according to Keep Talking Greece the data also contained the name of 24,000 alleged tax dodgers in various European countries. Just 20 of the Greeks accounted for deposits in excess of one billion euros, or $1.29 billion, but it was not revealed if they had paid taxes on it.

The government is keeping the list secret. The CD was stolen by a bank employee and Lagarde spread the information to other European countries which modified their laws to “legalize access and usage of stolen data.”

In the meantime, the government is trying to keep the list secret to prevent another embarrassing gaffe after the names of 33 politicians, including seven former ministers, said to be under review to explain huge sums in their bank accounts and whether they evaded taxes, was leaked to media sources and put on the Internet.


  • The maverik

    Greece is a corrupt country so whatever they do it won’t work because politicians are the main cause of this crisis supported by their parasites from the public sector. Greece will never change unless a strong EU force Greece to implement all the changes required being in line with other European countries. Changes in the system will reduce corruption and hope the
    country will prosper but until this happen Greece will remain undeveloped, uncompetitive and unproductive and bankrupt economically.

  • catchtaxevaders

    We need death penalty for tax evaders – as in China and USA.

  • Anonymous

    We should of course catch tax evaders and stiffening up penelties
    will help. Conscious fraud should potentially face imprisonment (and
    fines)

    There is no “death penalty” for tax evasion in the US as you claim (and I doubt there is one in China for tax evasion). Your extreme suggestion is something they might do in 3rd world theocracy or dictatorship not nations concerned with ethics.

  • Anonymous

    The problem isn’t only Greek politicians or the elite. Don’t buy into the far leftist rhetoric encouraged by Syriza to encourage class warfare to trick Greek voters into supporting them. Corruption exists from top to bottom in Greece because of no good mechanism to discourage it (like say IRS in US)

    IMO the best short term method to reducing corruption is making our government smaller. Smaller means it will be more focused on efficiency and more transparent. (since less variables to juggle) For as long as our government is spending too much money the entitlement pigs will come to the trough to eat rather than focus on their own business of business.

  • The maverik

    @942b2edea347d1cb6d59ca28ce5d7da5:disqus There is no death penalty for tax evasion in both the USA and China but in China death penalty do exist for corruption for large sums of money from 500,000Yuan plus but depends on what kind of corruption it is and what damage has caused to either the country and the people. In USA, failure to file a federal tax return can
    result in a $25,000 fine, even if the failure was the result of negligence. Intentional failure to file a tax return can result in felony charges and a possible fine of up to $100,000 or up to 5 years in jail. As for Greece there is no such a thing as penalties or charges for not filing a tax return form thats why all politicians have become rich from the crimes committed by deception and corruption.

  • catchtaxevaders

    You have death penalty for tax evaders in Texas and other states.
    and in China:
    http://www.legalinfo.com/content/criminal-law/crime-overview-tax-evasion_fraud.html
    http://www.govyou.co.uk/death-penalty-for-tax-evasion/
    and other countries – like Russia.

    Sure -the death penalty for tax evaders shouldn’t be for the little guy.

  • The maverik

    Venizelos is a crooked politician like all others. The names can be investigated without the need of any interference from any law officials but because he has friend and parasites included in the list and from fears of losing voters covered up the issue but now for some reasons he published the list to show to the people he is patriotic. Where is patriotism some years ago scumbag??? You could saved the country all together by helping expose corruption you filthy fat pig…You should be jailed from being traitor to the country and the constitution but your day will come and soon…

  • Lambrossellinas

    excuse my ignorance, but as traitor venizelos suggests, NOW?, of taxing the deposited sums, for benefiting public revenues, as he puts it, DOES THAT MEAN THAT THE REMAINING FUNDS WILL BE LEGALLY AVAILABLE FOR THE TAX CHEATS? NO INVESTIGATION THEREFORE OF HOW HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF EURO WAS OBTAINED, AND ILLEGALLY LAUNDERED OUT OF THE COUNTRY, THEREFORE THE POLITICIANS/BUSINESS OPERATORS WILL BE SCOTT FREE? THAT IS WHAT A SO CALLED LEADING GREEK POLITICIAN IS SUGGESTING? WHERE IS THE REVOLUTION THAT GREECE SO MUCH NEEDS AND DESERVES, WHERE ARE THE 21 ST CENTURY HEROES, WHO WILL STAND UP AND RE-WRITE THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE FAILED, CORRUPT SYSTEM THAT HAS  AND IS DESTROYING A SOCIETY, A GENERATION, A NATION, A FUTURE? FOR HOW LONG WILL THE SHEEP KEEP THEIR HEADS LOW AND BE CONTROLLED BY THE SHEPPERDS

  • texanos

    Please be more responsible with your statements. We have the death penalry in Texas but NOT for tax evation. Below I will provide links of the people excuted and the ones scheduled for execution. If you find one executed for tax evation let me know at  [email protected] otherwise wise up and be more rsponsible (shut up).
     
    http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_row/dr_executed_offenders.html
     
    http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_row/dr_scheduled_executions.html

  • Anonymous

     I no longer trust pasok party but not every politician is crooked.

  • Anonymous

    Even Texas doesn’t have death penelty for tax evaders re.

    Personally I don’t even want the death penelty to ever come to Greece (much less for tax evasion). You are right to oppose tax evasion but wrong to suggest such extreme penelties (which only discredits the cause rather than help it)

  • Anonymous

    Right. Penalties need to be stiffened up in Greece but not to bizarre extremes.

  • Abc

    Death penalty applies to all traitors across every nation in the world and… Greeks are at War right now with the powers that want to enslave the country! 

    The Greeks are fighting their own politicians, the IMF, the Banks, the past, the present and also fighting for the future. they are fighting for their lives.
    These criminals should finally realize that, betraying their country and the people, is punishable by hanging them in front of the Parliament. No exceptions…! Each one of these politicians are criminals because either they are involved or they did nothing to stop it and they agreed with their silence. 

    All politicians are guilty and their hands stained with the blood of all the  people that have committed suicide because they cannot survive anymore and don’t want to be a burden to their families!

  • Anonymous

    You are just looking for scapegoats. No single group is entirely to blame for greece’s economic problems. Massive government debt and tax evasion was due to rich and poor alive.

    This witch hunt mentallity needs to end and everybody has to focus on their own business. Cut spending, cut taxes, and everyone is responsible for providing for their own families and being productive (rather than pointing at everyone else to feed them)

  • Anonymous

     Reolution is what communist and gd fanatics want. Lets not end up like North Korea or Nazi gemany. Lets just calmly fix the issues.

  • Greek

    What is sad is that Greece has 300 crooks leading a country….who fail to pay taxes cannot be prosecuted and are above the law…have opened offshore accounts with kickbacks..Hired their family members permanently and cannot be fired even when they are unable to count their fingers or write…and have staff who are illegals working for them..Built on land that is not theirs…and cover everything up..
    And then expect everyone else to pay for their mistakes…This needs to stop..OXI day…
    These 300 politicians need to pay and pay they should..They should be made an example so the rest of the country can see how things are done in Greece…

    Yes that is right…Greece needs a new generation of public servants who are hired on merit and fired or made redundant when they do not perform or their is downturn and staff are no longer needed..
    Laws need to be amended and enforced where people have to pay their taxes and mortgages to banks and when they fail to do so they are put up for sale or auction like every country around the world.

    Things need to change in Greece from the ground up and give the next generation some hope…and future…to aspire to…and be proud of our country…
     

  • catchtaxevaders

    Wrong!
    Because of tax evaders a lot of people died.
    Look the statistic.
    So – tax evaders are killers – mass murderers.

  • Kyriacos40

    Your to nice,they should execute him for treason .Jail would be to good for him

  • The maverik

    Who will strengthen up Greece’s laws if all politicians are corrupt???