STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Reporter Exposes Tax Evasion Among Greek Politicians, Targeted for Arrest
By Staff News & Analysis - October 29, 2012

Warrant out for Greek journalist over leak of politicians' alleged tax evasion … Greek prosecutors have issued a warrant for the arrest of one of the country's top journalists, after his publication Hot Doc released the so-called 'Lagarde list' containing the names of some 2,000 Greeks with funds hidden in Swiss bank accounts. Greek police aim to detain Kostas Vaxevanis, the owner and editor of Hot Doc, for alleged privacy violations from publishing the list of names dated to 2007. "Instead of arresting the tax evaders and the ministers who had the list in their hands, they are trying to arrest the truth and free journalism," Vaxevanis said in an interview published online. The speaker of the Greek Parliament, several Finance Ministry employees and a number of business leaders all reportedly had Swiss HSBC bank accounts. – RT

Dominant Social Theme: These taxes must be paid – by Greek citizens, anyway.

Free-Market Analysis: So it turns out that many Greek politicians have Swiss bank accounts and are not paying taxes due. What does this tell us about "austerity"?

… Only that it is a meme, as we have previously discussed.

What is going on in Greece and elsewhere is that a small clique of powerful European politicos and their (banking) backers are insisting on IMF-style austerity. This includes tax hikes and authoritarian measures to enforce them.

In fact, more and more it seems the real reason for "austerity" is to provide a pretext for Draconian tax collection. This would be in keeping with the idea that this crisis, apparently manufactured, was always intended to provide the EU with more political authority.

The PIGS – with a culturally lackadaisical attitude about taxation – were to be brought in line via austerity. That's what is going on now.

It is NOT about taxes. It is about the primacy of the state's privilege to extract tithes. This perspective is brought home by news, reported (above) by RT. Here's some more from the article:

The Hot Doc article revealed that data matched that of Christine Lagarde, the former French finance minister who in 2010 provided her Greek counterpart a list of names of those alleged to have large sums of money stashed away in Swiss banks.

Citing privacy concerns for individuals on the list, Hot Doc said it had redacted exact bank balance figures, but added that some accounts contained as much as 500 million euros.

The Greek government took no action at the emergence of the first 'Lagarde list.' Tax evasion has become a hotly contested issue, as the country's parliament is expected to vote on a new 13.5 billion euro austerity package that most Greeks oppose.

On Friday, the office of former Prime Minister George Papandreou denied accusations that he knew about the list, after a member of the opposition Syriza party asserted that Papandreou had helped arrange a meeting with the chief of the Geneva HSBC branch when he was in power.

Bad enough that the reporter from Hot Doc is being pursued. But we can also see from this reporting that there is no great enthusiasm to delve into the issue of political tax evasion generally.

In fact, RT reports that former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou was asking the country's financial crimes unit to investigate about 20 Greeks suspected of maintaining large holdings in Geneva, after French authorities forwarded him the list in 2010. This is a minimal number.

Further, Papaconstantinou himself doesn't seem enthusiastic about the probe. "He … claimed that the Finance Ministry's legal adviser had told him that using the list as evidence was problematic, since an HSBC employee had illegally leaked it."

Such a stance as regards legal niceties is ludicrous – not too strong a word – given what's going in Europe and Greece (and the PIGS generally). None of it is "legal." All of it brutally tramples on the rights of EU citizens.

This is the reality. The double standard becomes ever more evident. The power elite behind the Eurozone and its consolidation is not interested in the larger philosophical issue. It is not interested in attacking politicians because politicians serve the state.

The results cannot be good in this era of what we call the Internet Reformation. People can read for themselves what is going on in ways they never could before.

In this case, given the blood and violence surrounding the tax issue in Greece, the idea that Greek administrators are indulging in the same tax evasion that Greek citizens are being attacked for is bound to further alienate the Greek electorate.

Here's how Kostas Vaxevanis puts it: "The fact is that for the last 30-40 years, the rich in Greece has enjoyed a kind of tax immunity. They're not really tax evaders, they're immune from tax because of the cozy relationship that they have with politicians who legislate in a way that makes that tax immunity."

Of course, we part ways with Vaxevanis. Tax immunity sounds fine to us. Get rid of central banking, get rid of the income tax and reduce taxes generally to a minimum and state privilege would be appropriately constrained.

We're in favor of a government that governs least, not an activist regime. Most government services can surely be provided better and more efficiently by private interests.

After Thoughts

What is also true is that the more these kinds of issues are exposed, the more cynical people become. This is contributing to the larger atmosphere of secessionism that we've noted on these pages previously.

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