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Greek prosecutors crack down on suspected tax evaders

Greek authorities have confirmed they're investigating hundreds of cases of alleged tax fraud. The crackdown came after regional officials in Germany had provided Athens with data sets on dubious bank accounts.

Greek prosecutors said Tuesday they were probing some 200 cases of suspected tax fraud and money laundering after raiding an Athens office of Swiss bank UBS.

Investigators were acting on a list of account holders with huge foreign-based deposits that had been given to them by

regional authorities in the German state of Northrhine Westphalia.

Athens had received some 10,000 sets of data on accounts held by private individuals and companies.

High time to act

Experts said the current clampdown on deposits, some as large as 12 million euros ($13.1 million) each, could wash an estimated 2 billion euros into the Greek government's treasury - a welcome windfall as the country struggles to meet international creditors' requirements for debt repayments, in addition to keeping up with government program expenditures.

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The Greeks and their taxes

A judicial source in Greece told AFP news agency that the account holders in question had been summoned to report to authorities to clarify their situation and avoid potential prosecution.

Back in 2010, the Greek government already received a similar list of tax-relevant data sets from IMF chief Christine Lagarde after former HSBC employee Hervé Falciani had blown the whistle on tax evaders.

Included on that list were account details on 2,000 Greeks, including politicians, but the government did not launch an investigation back then, for reasons that remain murky.

hg/nz (Reuters, AFP)

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