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Business

Tax fraud still a massive problem in Greece

Random checks by inspectors have shown that Greek authorities haven't been able so far to significantly rein in rampant tax fraud in the country. But drastic sanctions are meant to result in a change of behavior.

Nationwide spot checks found that almost one in two businesses in Greece was cheating on their taxes in some way.

A Finance Ministry statement released on Friday said 731 of the 1,465 companies scrutinized had violated tax laws. The highest rate of tax fraud was found on the islands of Evia and Skyros where 85 percent of businesses failed to comply with current tax legislation.

Top Greek tourist destinations such as Mykonos (pictured), Santorini and Crete had rates of 65 percent of the firms investigated.

Tougher sanctions

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Greek shop owners resisting on-site inspections have run the increased risk of facing a shutdown after the country's international creditors piled pressure on Athens to get serious about collecting revenues.

"Shop owners can be suspended for one month when there are serious violations and when tax checks are obstructed by threats and violence," the General Secretariat of Revenues said in a statement, adding it had already ordered the temporary closure of 12 firms for non-compliance, with 14 more facing similar action in the coming days.

The agency was set up earlier this year as an autonomous part of the Finance Ministry so as to bypass the political interference and patronage that have been blamed for hampering the established tax system.

hg/pfd   (AP, Reuters)

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