By Angelos Anastasiou
THE list of Cyprus- and Greece-affiliated individuals and companies included in the revelations relating to Swiss HSBC account-holders resemble “communicating vessels”, Greek newspaper Ta Nea reported yesterday.
The paper, which was the only Greek organisation involved in the global investigation that led to the revelations, compared the list of Greek entries on the list – known as the ‘Lagarde list’ – with Cypriot-affiliated individuals or companies that maintained accounts with HSBC Switzerland.
Comparison revealed several common entries, a fact deemed by the paper “unsurprising” given the strong commercial and cultural ties between the two countries.
However, it added, evidence thus far suggested that although Cypriot authorities have requested access to the list of Cyprus-affiliated entries, none has been granted.
The ‘Cypriot’ list, Ta Nea reported, shows a total 308 account-holders who maintained balances of $647m in the Swiss bank. Of these, eight people had stated Greek residential addresses, two being Greek nationals.
These eight individuals accounted for $11.5m in deposits, while other entries in the Cypriot list were found to hold accounts in which amounts flowing in mirrored those of Greek account-holders exactly, suggesting a link between the two.
Although holding overseas bank accounts is neither illegal, nor indicative of wrongdoing, it has been widely speculated that the leaked information may include evidence of undeclared income, which was moved to Switzerland to take advantage of its ultra-strict bank secrecy laws.
Meanwhile, following its public call for the Finance ministry to obtain the list and forward it to deputies, the House Ethics committee continued to beat the transparency drum yesterday as reason for demanding the names.
“The primary focus is whether this list includes suspicious money, and any money linked to politically exposed persons,” committee acting chairman Demetris Syllouris told state radio. “Not necessarily politicians – they could be relatives of politicians or high-ranking government officials, who could have had a chance to get kickbacks through awarded contracts.”
Taxation department official Renos Ioannou said that although media reports of such information is sufficient for the department to launch investigations, requesting the list from the French authorities is a matter for the government.
“When we are handed the list, we will evaluate it to examine any issues of tax evasion, whether the money has been declared, and if not levy the appropriate taxes,” he said. “But it is the Finance ministry’s job to contact the right people and secure the list.”