A DEN OF A THOUSAND THIEVES

For the past few year we have blogged on the criminal element that has saturated Greece, now comes a most lively book detailing the do’s of Greek society; they included a mind boggling number of swindles that would put most Russians to shame.

James Angelos’ The Full Catastrophe: Travels among the New Greek Ruins lays bare the corruption which filtered through all levels of society – from the islanders who pretended to be blind, to the families who forgot to register their parents’ death and the doctors who ‘earn’ just €12,000 a year – yet live in Athens’ most exclusive neighborhood.

It was the rumours of an ‘island of the blind’ which first bought Angelos, a journalist, to Greece in 2011.

He had heard that on Zakynthos, something like two per cent of the population were registered blind.

All was not quite how it seemed, however, and it transpired that 61 of the 680 ‘blind’ residents were quite happily driving around the island.

In fact, an astonishing 498 of those 680 were not blind at all – or even partially sighted.

But being ‘blind’ had its advantages – in particular, the €724 paid in benefits once every two months, and a reduction in utility bills.

It was a scam which could be traced back to one ophthalmologist and one official, which was estimated to have cost the country €9 million.

And, as Angelos discovered, it was only the tip of the iceberg.

How big is the problem of disability benefits fraud, Angelos asked the then-deputy health minister Markos Bolaris.

‘Very big,’ came the accurate, but short, reply.

Indeed, when those claiming disabilities were asked to present themselves at government offices so records could be updated, 36,000 failed to do so.

That translated to an immediate saving for the government of €100m a year.

But the fraud was certainly not confined to just disability benefits.

When the government chose to take a closer look at who they were paying pensions to, they found a slightly suspicious 8,500 pensioners had surpassed the milestone age of 100.

An even closer look revealed, 40,000 pension claims were fraudulent. It seems people were forgetting to register their loved ones’ deaths.

It’s not that these scams were not known about before, of course.

A Daily Mail investigation in 2011 revealed the subway system was essentially free for the five million residents of Athens – because, with no barriers, it relied on an honesty system which few were honest enough to use.

It described street after street of opulent mansions and villas, surrounded by high walls and with their own pools, which, on paper, were the homes of virtual paupers.

They were all allowed to declare their own income for tax purposes – and officially, they were only earning €12,000 – or a paltry £8,500 – a year, below the tax threshold.

Apparently, only 5,000 people admitted to earning more than £90,000 a year – prompting one economist to describe Greece as a ‘poor country full of rich people’.

The lengths these doctors, lawyers and businessmen would go to to hide their wealth from the government was, it has to be said, impressive.

According to official records, just over 300 homes in Athens’ most exclusive neighbourhood had swimming pools, and had paid the resulting tax for such a luxury.

But when the government decided to have a look on Google Earth, it became clear these residents hadn’t been totally honest.

The real figure for swimming pools in the area is believed to be closer to 20,000.

But instead of coming clean, there was a boom in sales of camouflage tarpaulins to conceal their existence from the tax inspectors flying over the gardens.

And then there are the tales which seem to be more down to incompetence, rather than actual fraud.

In particular, there is the tale of treasury employee Savvas Saltouridis, who used an Uzi submachine gun to murder the mayor of his Greek mountain town in 2009, who remained on the municipal payroll for years afterwards – even though he was languishing in jail.

He was taking advantage of the complex disciplinary system

Angelos, then working for the Wall Street Journal, was told by retired clerk Apostolos Tsiakiris, who took over as mayor after the killing: ‘You can’t be a murderer and keep getting paid.

‘That doesn’t happen in any other government.’

But what do when so many are cheating the system? It is estimated tax evasion alone might be costing the country as much as €20billion a year in lost revenue, while years of benefit fraud will certainly have added up.

But when Angelos suggested punishing those who tried to play the system, he was given a straight forward – if depressing – answer.

‘If you start putting people in jail, maybe you’ll have to put half of Greece in jail,’ an official said.

Tax evasion: But it is not just people claiming benefits when they shouldn't. Some of the richest people in the country go out of their way to avoid paying tax - claiming they only earn £8,500 a year

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3148451/A-island-pretending-blind-benefits-8-500-pensioners-faked-aged-100-lawyers-claim-earn-just-12-000-New-book-reveals-Greeks-cheated-ruin.html#ixzz3evKqVYlG
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

 

A VALUABLE LESSON IS CALLED FOR – GREEK SHYSTERS MUST PAY UP

The socialist government of Greece was responsible for close to $1 trillion tailspin in worldwide stock markets yesterday, June 29 2015. The Greeks need to answer for this. A lesson learned by the parasitic government will set an example for others. To exact the punishment we recommend a complete boycott of all Greek products and visitations to Greece. The tactic will be a teachable moment and send the economy into a final death spiral.

If this boycott is successful and Greece becomes moribund, then and only then will they understand true depression. Thus far we know that Greeks have an aversion to paying taxes, after all it is a national sport, they have an aversion to work relying on the government and are untrustworthy. The world knew this, but gave them time to mend their wayward ways. It never works out that way, once a dam liar always a dam liar.

Tsipras will not come to terms with the profligate spending on pensions, he fought the Europeans who demanded austerity which was no surprise. The time has come to drop the heaviest weights onto the Hellenic liars, exact the punishment to fit the crime. BOYCOTT ALL GREEK PRODUCTS INCLUDING VISITATIONS. Then we will see how they like eating cake.

A protester waves a Greek flag during an anti-austerity rally in Athens, Greece, on 29 June 2015. Click here for a new offer from the thugs.