Wealthy Greeks have billions of euros stashed in Swiss bank accounts. A new agreement is under negotiation between the Greek finance ministry and Swiss banks which would allow the banks to tax untaxed assets and remit the funds anonymously to Greece.
As the financial crisis in Greece deepens,tax evasion remains rife. Whilst the average Greek person shoulders the burden of crippling austerity measures the rich elite have been protecting their assets by wiring money abroad, much of it reaching Swiss bank accounts. Now a new bilateral agreement between Greece and Switzerland is under negotiation which will result in untaxed holdings being taxed in Switzerland and remitted to Greece.
i]Der Speigel reported that Horst Reichenbach, head of the Greek EU task-force, said if the agreement can be reached it "would be an excellent avenue for Greece to access a new tax revenue stream and at the same time to slow capital flight out of their own country." Both the U.K. and Germany have already reached the same agreement with Swiss banks.
Athens News posts some interesting figures on the level of black money that Greek citizens have stashed in secret Swiss bank accounts. Figures released by the Greek central bank "show that 33 billion euros was wired from bank accounts in Greece to Switzerland since the beginning of last year." Figures cited by Der Speigel estimate the sum is much higher, saying "Greek citizens have deposited an estimated €200 billion in Swiss accounts, with a significant portion of that sum thought to be unreported."Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told parliament he has a list of 750 Greeks who each sent at least 100,000 euros to Swiss bank accounts in 2009. He gave as an example the case of one Greek who stashed "146 million euros in a Swiss bank account when at the same time he owes some 636 million euros in back tax." Venizolos has another list for 2010 of Greeks who each wired more than 80,000 euros abroad.
Under the planned agreement Swiss bankers would collect taxes and send them to Greece anonymously, bringing in up to 10 billion euros in taxes.