ATHENS – With wealthy Greeks and others who are hiding their money in secret foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes are escaping government raids on assets of state debtors, tax officials through October confiscated more than 105,000 bank accounts.
That’s some 52 per hour or almost one every minute, the newspaper Kathimerini calculated, as the authorities are now going to start opening safe deposit boxes amid complaints that some accounts have wrongly been confiscated more than once.
The money is being taken from workers, pensioners and corporations despite alleged protection for accounts up to amounts of around 1,000 euros that are supposed to be untouchable.
The combination of seizures and debt payment plans offering a year to settle up brought in some 4.5 billion euros ($5.12 billion) in the first 10 months of the year as the government is looking for every cent with the end of 326 billion euros ($371.1 billion) in three international bailouts on Aug. 20 and Greece unable to return to the markets so far.
Officials estimate the amount brought in by the end of the year will reach 6 billion euros ($6.83 billion), about the cost of two submarines.
But the well is running dry the report said as officials are beginning to run out of accounts and assets to seize from those who kept their money in Greek banks instead of secreting it away in places such as Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Australia or the US.
In August, the month when Greece exited the bailout programs, the number of confiscations was only 48 compared to 5,227 the month before before it surged to 7,066 in September with reports remaining debtors are being squeezed to agree to installment plans or risk confiscations for amounts owed as small as 500 euros ($569.17).
Debtors will be hounded with phone calls, mail and emails as the number of those who still owe money soared from one million in 2009 to more than 4.2 billion today because of an avalanche of tax hikes from the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition with tax officials sending out 4.85 million online confiscation notices.