Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has said the country could have avoided economic bailouts if it had "not been robbed by funds being funnelled to tax havens." Ironically, his government presided as funds were sent to Swiss bank accounts.
George Papandreou spoke of citizens being robbed as he referred to the tax transparency report that revealed the world's wealthiest have stashed away $21 trillion worth of assets in offshore tax havens, Yahoo Finance reported. They cite figures showing that during 2010 - 2011 wealthy Greeks moved €16 billion abroad.
That figure fades in comparison to the figure of €70 billion which the Greek central bank cites as being moved abroad since June 2009.
Referring to the exodus of Greek money to foreign tax havens Papanderou said "Had this alone been tackled, Greece would have most likely never have needed a bailout." The crisis that has imposed austerity on ordinary Greek citizens could have been averted if wealthy Greeks had paid their taxes.
According to Der Spiegel a bilateral tax agreement between Switzerland and Athens is due to be formalised in September that could bring billions of euros back to Greece. It will target accounts that wealthy Greeks opened to avoid taxes in Greece. However, SYRIZA's Dimitrios Papadimoulis said "The agreement with Switzerland could have been signed at anytime since 2005," thus under the governance of George Papandreou. Papadimoulis explained the reason the treaty had been delayed was: "The agreement is moving at a snail's pace because Greek politicians who are supported by powerful businessmen would be affected."
Swiss finance broker Helvea estimates €20 billion has been sent to Swiss bank accounts, of which 99 percent has evaded the Greek tax authorities. However, funds could still be funnelled elsewhere before those billions are taxed.
Meanwhile it is almost a year since Digital Journal reported Greece would publish the names of the top tax evaders, with the intention of naming and shaming. The results have been a dismal failure.