Getting tougher on people who aren’t paying the state what is owed, Greece will begin confiscating money directly from their bank accounts – those in Greece, not from legions of tax cheats hiding their wealth in foreign banks.
Without action from Parliament, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras signed a measure that will let tax authorities require the government to have access to depositor accounts.
Under the new rules, banks will have 10 days from when they receive notice from authorities to freeze the accounts of customers who owe money to the state and tax officials will also have the ability to check on the progress of their requests via an online system that will link them to the banks.
Through Sept. 30, Greek police said they had made 2,267 arrests for debts owed the public sector and other tax offenses, amounting to 9.226 million euros. But many other cases in which courts have ordered collections have gone uncollected as there is little fear of consequences.
The new measure though would also allow asset seizures within 24 hours in major tax evasion cases involving money-laundering and other high-level offenses.
The business newspaper Naktemporiki had said that for smaller cases the government will take assets even before a court case is brought, and return them if there is an acquittal. It was not said if that would include property or only bank deposits.