Doubts over competence
Not a single prominent tax evader has yet been convicted
Greece’S elite used to see stashing funds in Swiss bank accounts as an insurance policy. Until the country joined the euro zone, fears of a sudden devaluation or a freeze on capital movements loomed large. Then came a rush to transfer money made in the black economy to financial havens abroad.
After many years of turning a blind eye to this illegal practice, a desperately broke Greek government is at last cracking down. The tax declarations of almost 2,000 Greeks with accounts at the Geneva branch of HSBC, a bank, are being scrutinised by officials at SDOE, the financial police. Their names were on a computer disk sent in 2010 by Christine Lagarde, then French finance minister, to her Greek counterpart, George Papaconstantinou.
在多年对这些违法行为睁一只眼闭一只眼后，濒临破产的希腊政府做出严厉打击此类行为的动作。希腊独立税务调查组（SDOE），对近2000名在汇丰银行（HSBC）日内瓦分行有业务的希腊纳税人的资产进行了清查。而这批名单是在2010年的时候，从时任法国财政部长克里斯蒂娜·拉加德（Christine Lagarde）的电脑磁盘里传给时任希腊财政部长乔治·帕帕康斯坦丁 (George Papaconstantinou)的。
The “Lagarde list” went missing in mid-2011 but turned up again recently when Evangelos Venizelos, Mr Papaconstantinou’s successor as finance minister, sent a copy to the office of Antonis Samaras, who is now prime minister. Hot Doc, a Greek investigative magazine, then got hold of another copy and published all 2,000 names.
这份“拉加德 名单”在2011年年中时，曾经失踪过。但是帕帕康斯坦丁财长的继任者维尼泽洛斯（Evangelos Venizelos）将此名单的复印件送至现任希腊总理萨马拉斯（Antonis Samaras）处。此后，希腊调查类杂志《热门档案》（Hot Doc）也获得一份名单，并公布了这近2000个姓名。
Several politicians and their wives and many members of prominent business families appear on the list. Yet most attention has focused on Maria Panteli, an office manager whose account contained 550 million euro ($719m), about one-third of the total in all the accounts. Ms Panteli was suspected at first of acting as a front for a Greek shipowner. Then Nikos Lekkas, deputy chief of SDOE, claimed in testimony to a prosecutor that her account was controlled by the 89-year-old mother of a former prime minister, George Papandreou.
一些政客和他们的妻子以及许多赫赫有名的企业家族成员出现在这份名单上。然而现在大多数的目光都集中在一个叫做Maria Panteli的办公室经理的身上，她的账户资本约有5.5亿欧元（约为7.19亿美元），约占总账户金额的三分之一。Panteli 起初被怀疑是希腊某船主的替罪羊。其后，SDOE的负责人Nikos Lekkas在向检察院提交证物时表示，Panteli的账户由希腊前总理帕潘德里欧（George Papandreou）89岁的母亲所操控。
Margaret Papandreou, who lives modestly near Corinth, a provincial town, and her son, now a backbench MP, swiftly denied the allegations. Mrs Papandreou, a feisty feminist, threatened to sue newspapers that published Mr Lekkas’s claim.
The Papandreous felt vindicated when Sabby Mioni, a Greek-Israeli financier, came up with an explanation. Mr Mioni said he had never met any Papandreou family member. The account in question belonged to an investment fund listed on the Irish stock exchange, he said, and he used to manage the fund on behalf of EFG International, a Greek financial group based in Switzerland. According to one of Mr Mioni’s former colleagues, Ms Panteli was a trusted employee permitted to sign documents on Mr Mioni’s behalf.
A day later Mr Lekkas made a U-turn, claiming that he had never linked the Papandreous with Ms Panteli’s account. The embarrassing incident has raised fresh doubts about the financial police’s professional competence. Critics say there has been foot-dragging over investigations of politicians, footballers, prominent lawyers and doctors suspected of tax evasion. SDOE officials complain they are overloaded with new cases.
Greece has still not convicted any prominent tax evaders, despite promising international creditors that the worst offenders would go to jail. The government is about to name a special secretary for tax affairs, in line with a request from officials from the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank who are supervising economic reforms. The new tax supremo will have his work cut out.
尽 管希腊曾向国际债权人承诺，将会惩罚那些情节严重者甚至将其送至监狱，但该国依然没有给任何一个逃税大户定罪。根据监督希腊经济改革的机构，即欧盟委员会（European Commission）、国际货币基金组织（IMF）和欧洲中央银行（European Central Bank）官员的要求，希腊政府正筹划任命负责税收事务的特别官员。新任税务长官的工作将与其他政府工作分而治之。翻译：周颖