Greek Fashion Designer 4-Time Tax Cheat

ATHENS – Noted Greek fashion designer Lakis Gavalas, who is taking part in a popular TV dance competition for charity, was back in court on Nov. 27 to face charges of being a serial tax cheat.

It was the fourth that Gavalas has been hauled into court for failure to pay taxes, this time on the accusation he owes 700,000 euros ($951,600), the third time this year he has faced tax evasion complaints.

The first two times, despite being a repeat offender, he was given suspended sentences, five years for tax evasion in 2012 to the sum of 1.5 million euros ($2.03 million) in July, following a seven-year suspended sentence in connection with another unpaid tax bill of 17 million euros ($23.14 million) in June.

Gavalas, who was not present in court, was given the suspended sentence after the judge decided to show leniency and rejected the prosecutor’s request he be jailed for violating the previous suspended sentence with more tax evasion. There was no word on whether he would go to jail for violating the previous two suspended sentences.

He has escaped serious jail time, apart from a 14-month stretch in pre-trial custody at high security Korydallos Prison before being released in June. There was no explanation why his suspended sentences weren’t revoked and why he wasn’t sent to jail for defying the court, which is common in Greece.

His appearance came after morning television presenter and former publisher Petros Kostopoulos faced an Athens prosecutor a day earlier after being arrested over alleged debts of 350,000 euros ($475.7 million) to the state. He was due to appear in court on Nov. 27.

Gavalas is the latest in a string of celebrities and personalities who have escaped jail time for major tax evasion despite pressure from international lenders for Greece to clamp down from cheats who owe 70 billion euros ($95 billion) and have escaped prosecution.