Minister Blasts Home, Business Tax Raids

ATHENS – Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou said he’s upset a Greek court is allowing the Financial Crimes Squad SDOE to raid homes and businesses and confiscate the cash and property of tax debtors.

The State Legal Council ruled that SDOE officer are entitled to invade the homes and businesses of taxpayers with debts to the state without having a judicial official present.

Citing Article 9 of the Greek Constitution, according to whose provisions “a citizen’s home is his haven,” Athanasiou said that the right of tax authorities to do house searches “must be studied.”

He added that, according to the Constitution, searches on homes or businesses can only be carried out by tax officials if a judicial official is present.

After being asked for guidance by the ministry, the State Legal Council voted in favor of house searches by unaccompanied SDOE officers being legal by 14 votes to 10.

The judges said that a prosecutor’s presence is only required if the planned search is being conducted in order to gather evidence related to a suspected crime, to arrest a suspected criminal or to stop a crime from being committed.

But following a media outcry and the split decision, the ministry asked the Supreme Court to intervene and issue a final decision.

The newspaper Ethnos had reported SDOE wanted to use tactics like the American IRS to gain revenues from tax cheats, who owe more than 70 billion  euros.