Ex-officials deny refusing info on North-Rhine Westphalia accounts

20 February 2016
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Officials from the previous New Democracy-led coalition on Saturday denied claims that the government they served in had rejected an opportunity to obtain a list of potential tax evaders from the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia in 2012.

The list was passed over to the current SYRIZA-led coalition late last year but the government published a letter on Friday from Greece’s consul in Dusseldorf, Nikos Plexidas, dated October 2012, in which he informed the administration of Antonis Samaras that the North-Rhine Westphalia Finance Minister Norbert Walter-Borjans was interested in holding a meeting to discuss cooperation on tax issues.

The document was published in response to a question by SYRIZA MPs. However, two members of the government at the time, Konstantinos Bouras, who served as general secretary at the prime minister’s office, and ex-deputy finance minister Giorgos Mavraganis, denied that Walter-Borjans had offered to provide data on Greeks with bank accounts abroad.

They both pointed to a Skai TV interview with the German official in January, when he came to Athens to sign a cooperation agreement with the current government, in which he said that the list of depositors was made available to him in spring last year. Bouras said that in 2012 Walter-Borjans had expressed an interest in cooperation on a technical level to improve Greece’s tax administration.

However, the former Greek government official said that Athens informed him it could only sign such agreements with central, rather than local, governments.

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