ATHENS Dec 27 Greek prosecutors sent a list of
possible tax cheats to parliament, court sources said, in a case
that has highlighted Athens' failure to crack down on the tax
evasion that has contributed to the country's financial crisis.
Given to Greece for a second time by French authorities on
Dec. 21, the list contains hundreds of names of Greek account
holders at global bank HSBC in Switzerland, which
authorities want to investigate over suspected tax evasion.
The affair has enraged the public and opposition parties
already furious over the failure of consecutive governments to
crack down on the rich and powerful, while years of recession
have wiped out a fifth of economic output and hammered
middle-class living standards.
France originally handed over the list to Athens in 2010.
But former Greek government officials did not act on it,
fuelling public anger and prompting suspicion that some names
were erased before it was given to parliament earlier this year.
To put an end to the confusion, Greek prosecutors traveled
to Paris last week to re-obtain the original list. They spent
six days cross-checking the two documents to find out if any
names were removed. The prosecutors did not reveal if the
initial list had been tampered with.
"They compiled a most detailed report that was submitted to
the Greece's highest civilian court with the request to be
forwarded to parliament," a court official told Reuters on
condition of anonymity.
The list originates from wide-ranging data stolen by a
former HSBC employee, which Paris obtained. Greeks have dubbed
it the "Lagarde List" after Christine Lagarde, the head of the
International Monetary Fund who was French finance minister when
the list was originally handed over.
Greece has so far failed to convict any big names of tax
evasion, fuelling popular disenchantment with a political class
that promised to force the wealthy to share some of the pain of
the debt crisis.
By contrast, other authorities around Europe have used the
data to pursue cases of suspected tax evasion.
"The lies are at an end, our people seek the truth, judgment
day nears," Panos Skourletis, spokesman of Greece's main
opposition Syriza party said on Wednesday.
No names on any of the lists have been officially released
yet. A Greek investigative journalist who published the names of
2,059 account holders allegedly on the Lagarde List was charged
for breaching privacy laws.
"End the charade now and publish all the names," the
Communist KKE party said in a statement on Thursday.