Greece's Finance Ministry launched a tax evasion crackdown on itself on Tuesday to investigate hundreds of staff in response to a public outcry over corruption in the crisis-hit country.
Greeks, at the epicenter of fears over European debt, have been hit hard by austerity measures meant to pull the economy out of recession and opinion polls show they demand retribution in a country where corruption is widespread.
"Restoring transparency in tax collection, as well as the reputation of the tax administration in general, is essential not only for improving public revenues but also in order to instill a sense of social justice and establish a trustworthy relationship between citizens and the state," the ministry said.
The internal inquiry will investigate 50 complaints, mostly against tax offices and customs agencies, in cases including accusations of bribery, illegal economic activity, smuggling and corruption, the ministry said in a statement.
It will also investigate 234 employees who have not filed tax declarations for 2007-2008, as well as others at random, and examine the property holdings of 70 employees.
"The average real estate holdings for these employees is valued at 1,228,337 euros, while their average declared income is 50,834 euros," the ministry said.
The employees have property holdings ranging from 800,000 euros to 3 million euros ($985,000 to $3.7 million), it said.
To shore up its services and help restore confidence, the ministry said it was completely reorganizing tax collection mechanisms and had replaced 20 directors under whose supervision various offices failed to meet collection targets.
"The goal is to bring up to date the mechanism of tax collection, better serve citizens and establish a transparent and fair tax framework," it said.
Greece recently published the names of 68 high-earning doctors found guilty of tax evasion in another step to show it is serious about changing a culture of tax dodging that has contributed heavily to its debt crisis.
Greeks can report tax evasion and corruption to the public hotline 1517.
ReutersLast Mod: 26 Mayıs 2010, 01:49