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Business

Germany helps Greece to crack down on tax cheats

A western German state has provided Greece with information about suspected tax dodgers, using data it has bought from insiders in Switzerland. The move is to help Athens get serious about fighting tax evasion.

Germany's western state of Northrhine Westphalia confirmed it had given Greece information on suspected tax evaders as Athens kept struggling

to fulfill its promise to international creditors

to crack down on tax dodgers.

Authorities in the German state said they had sent more than 10,000 data sets on accounts of Greeks in Switzerland - data they had previously bought from insiders in a practice sharply criticized by Switzerland itself.

"This is an important step for the Greek government to create more honesty regarding tax in the country, Northrhine Westphalia Finance Minister Norbert Walter-Borjans said in a statement.

Opportunity to boost the budget

The information sent to Athens concerns Swiss bank accounts held by private individuals and companies from Greece with assets estimated to amount to 4 billion Swiss francs ($3.92 billion, 3.69 billion euros).

Greece's Finance Ministry had reported the debt-stricken southern eurozone nation lost up to 20 billion euros annually as a result of large-scale tax evasion and smuggling.

Greek officials said they would now carefully evaluate the data sent to them. Deputy Finance Minister Trifon Alexiadis added he would ask Switzerland for additional information if needed.

hg/tko (Reuters, AFP)

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