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Greek journalist to go to prison for outing tax evaders?

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OK, just the "facts" that one can gather from watching Greek media on the matter:


  • The so-called "Lagarde list" is supposed to contain several (about 2000) names of people and companies with alleged Swiss bank accounts.
  • The names might or might not be potential tax evaders. The list only proves that they have one or more accounts in some Swiss bank, and that they might be worth investigating for tax evasion and money laundering.
  • The very existence of such a list was only publicly acknowledged after the last elections.
  • The involved politicians have, so far, evaded any inquiries saying that it was "unofficial", a "non-paper", "unimportant", and even that it "got lost in a drawer" for two years.
  • The list is genuine, and those involved suppressed it because they would get exposed.
  • The list is genuine, and those involved used it to blackmail some of the people in it.
  • Conveniently, Christine Lagarde who was French minister of Economy when the list was sent (on her own initiative), is no longer in that position. If the list is indeed genuine and the French have the originals, their silence on the matter doesn't help.
  • There are several attempts at downlplaying the list's value (e.g. "It's inaccurate", "It's outdated", "It's full of irrelevant names not worth pursuing", "It's the product of illegal wiretapping, therefore legally useless", "Even it if was genuine, leaking it rendered it legally useless" etc.
  • The same officials that nonchalantly claimed to have "forgotten" about it for 2 years, now claim that the number of 2059 is too high: the "original" they had had about 1900. Which means that either the leaked list is bogus or, worse, that it's genuine and the list that the select few had laid their eyes on was compromied, with some "heavy" names edited out.
  • Ad hominem attacks and prosecution against the journalist (Vaxevanis), on the grounds that it constitutes "illegal leakage of personal data"

TL; DR: just business as usual in good old Greece. You eventually get used to it if you live here. Most will probably forget about it in a couple of days, after yet another round of much more pressing tax hikes and cuts.

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fraggle said:

I'm very curious as to how such a list has been drawn up.

The "good" theory: it was compiled and given in bona fide from the French minister of finance as a sort of "treasure map" to aid our revenue service. Basically, it was a hint saying "look, these people/companies here are 'known good' holders of Swiss bank accounts according to our sources. You may want to check on them first thing in the morning, just in case some of them are actual tax evaders". It's not unknown for revenue services accross Europe to resort to such lists: the German finance ministers even bought a CD with a similar list concerning German citizens from an "undisclosed hacker". Even if such lists are unofficial, they do help revenue services targeting/narrowing down audits. Sure, they can't accuse anyone of tax evasion just based on an unofficial document, but they can use it as a hint for investigation that might lead to an actual "catch".

Of course, even assuming that the list is genuine and was truly given in bona fide, it would be doubly pointless: people in power, including tax revenue, are connected to the elite who would have Swiss bank accounts in the first place, and they would know very well who does and who doesn't, so it's unlikely it would ever be used for its "intended" purpose, aka catching potential tax evaders: there would be no political will to do so, and plenty of pressure to the contrary, list or no list.

However, the list could serve also as a blackmail weapon against "unruly" elite if threatened with a selective leak involving only some names. Now that it's published however, if it's genuine it lost any such potential. It might even be fake and just a smoke screen so the real list can be definitively obliterated or forgotten. Unless the french minister of finance steps in and confirms, the list will have been reduced to worthless toilet paper.

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