The first leg of the Tax Department’s investigation into a list of deposits in Swiss HSBC bank in 2003 has been completed, with 86 individuals sent notices, tax czar Yiannis Tsangaris said on Monday.
Speaking on state radio, Tsangaris said that 86 people were taxed for undeclared deposits found in overseas bank accounts in 2003, from a list procured by the French government last August.
Even though all 86 have contested the taxation levied, Tsangaris added, some of the objections appear weak and could even lead to the criminal prosecution of individuals refusing to pay.
Final decisions on the 86 cases will be made at a Tax Department meeting on Tuesday.
Upon completion of this process, he noted, investigations will commence on possible tax dues of companies.
“We’ve separated the list into people and companies, and started with people,” he said.
“In some cases, the tax commissioner imposed taxation in his judgement – that is, without adequate evidence – which is why we had all these objections. All objections have been examined, and [Tuesday’s] meeting will decide how to deal with these cases. But some of the objections are blatantly inadequately backed.”
Preliminary estimates of the expected tax revenue to be collected from undeclared income found in the Lagarde list were placed at €35 million by Finance Minister Harris Georgiades in January.
The list includes around 500 names of individuals and companies with deposits at HSBC Switzerland.
French police obtained the list, nicknamed the Lagarde List after France’s former finance minister and current managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, from an ex-technician at the bank in 2009.
The former HSBC worker attempted to sell the data, which he obtained a few years earlier, to the governments of other European countries.
Lagarde handed part of the list containing the names of Greek depositors to the authorities in Greece in 2010 to help the cash-strapped country clamp down on tax evasion.
It was later found that then Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou had removed the names of individuals related to him from the original document.
Meanwhile, regarding possible tax-dodging revealed in the leaked ‘Panama Papers’ – a trove of documents from the internal database of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca – Tsangaris said investigation is still at its early stages.
He noted that he has tasked a tax official to conduct a “preliminary” internet search for any links to Cyprus, but said that there has been no contact yet with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which broke the story and has possession of the full set of leaked documents.
“As the tax department, we’re not really interested in money channelled through Cyprus – we want to find the tax residents of Cyprus,” he said.