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Greek tax chief admits Lagarde had fair point

CHRISTINE Lagarde was right to highlight the tax-dodging that costs Greece up to €45bn a year -- twice the sum the country needs to pay off its debts -- the country's chief tax inspector has admitted.

The head of the IMF sparked outrage in Greece two weeks ago after she suggested that it was "payback" time for Greeks who had worsened their country's finances by evading taxes.

But Nikos Lekkas, the head of the Greek tax inspectorate, the SDOE, has backed Mrs Lagarde and insisted that Greece could easily pay off its debts if taxes due for payment were paid into the state's coffers.

"Tax evasion has reached 12-15pc of the gross national product," he told Germany's 'Die Welt' newspaper.

"That is €40bn to €45bn per year. If we could recover even half of that, Greece would have solved the problem. Our politicians have begun to understand that."

Mr Lekkas expressed particular concern over cases involving suspected tax evasion by Greek politicians from different political parties.

"There is not good co-operation with the banks," he said. "In over 5,000 cases, we have requested to inspect the accounts of suspects. Only in 214 cases were we successful." (Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent