IMF chief was right: Greek tax fraud investigator

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde was right to urge Greeks to pay their taxes since that could help solve Athens' current difficulties, the country's top tax investigator said Friday.

"I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Lagarde," the head of the Greek tax authority SDOE, Nikos Lekkas, told German daily Die Welt.

"Tax evasion in Greece amounts to 12-15 percent of gross domestic product. That's 40-45 billion euros ($50-56 billion) each year. If we could raise even just half of that, Greece's problems would be solved," Lekkas said.

But there has to be the political will to achieve that, he added.

"Our politicians have begun to understand this," Lekkas said.

In an uncompromising interview published by The Guardian newspaper last month, Lagarde said she had little sympathy with the Greek people -- preferring to concern herself with the plight of starving children in Africa's Sahel region.

"I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time," she said. "All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax."

She said the Greeks could help themselves "by all paying their tax," remarks that incensed many Greeks and led to 10,000 messages, many obscene, being posted on Lagarde's Facebook page.

Source: AFP

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