* Greek official arrested, denies he leaked document
* Emails says little to justify evasion fight targets
By Lefteris Papadimas and Deepa Babington
ATHENS, Aug 1 A leaked document from Greek
officials complaining they could not justify ambitious targets
for proceeds from fighting tax evasion has embarrassed Greece's
new government and led to the arrest of a senior finance
Lambros Liosis, budget department chief at the ministry's
General Accounting Office, appeared before prosecutors on
Wednesday after being charged with violating personal data and
state secrecy laws for leaking the document.
He was released pending trial after his arrest on Friday. He
denies the accusations, saying he "would not publish a document
bearing his name" and that they were taken from his office. His
lawyers said Liosis was innocent and that whoever leaked the
document had "political motives".
A photo of the document, which includes a chain of emails
dated July 24 and 25 on the country's struggle to raise money
from fighting tax evasion, was published on a Greek blog site.
It includes an email from one finance ministry official
saying revenues from battling evasion would be 800 million euros
less in 2013 than projected in a mid-term plan.
Another official from the fiscal data department complains
that a target of raising 3.8 billion euros from the plan over
2013-2016 could not be justified, given a lack of numbers
recorded in 2011 and no forecasts available for 2014-2016.
Patchy tax collection has long been a major problem in
Greece, which is trying to show the so-called troika of EU and
IMF lenders that it is on the path to reforming itself and
deserves more aid to avoid bankruptcy.
"With this data, the General Accounting Office cannot argue
during the technical meeting with the Troika on Thursday that we
must include, even just symbolically, an amount for 2013 (i.e.
300 million)," the finance ministry official writes in the email
to Greece's general secretary of fiscal policy, in which Liosis
and other officials are copied.
"Without further documentation, it will also be difficult to
convince them on a political level to accept a serious amount
and the gap for 2013 widens by 924 million (and for 2014, by 651
The official then suggests the GAO "have a line" on tax
evasion based on benchmarks like the number of new inspectors
hired or audits made, or come along to the meeting with the
"Otherwise we will just have to accept their numbers," he
A finance ministry spokesman had no immediate comment.
Liosis's arrest adds an embarrassing twist to Prime Minister
Antonis Samaras's efforts to convince skeptical European Union
and International Monetary Fund lenders that the country has
turned the corner in its efforts to reform.
EU and IMF inspectors are currently in Athens on a visit to
determine whether the near-bankrupt country is complying with
the terms of its 130-billion-euro bailout. The IMF said it had
no comment on the matter.
The lenders are expected to stay at least until Greek
political leaders hammer out a deal on nearly 12 billion euros
in austerity cuts for the next two years.