Greek Cowboys and the IMF – who is scared of real tax reform?

Lagarde 2

The head of the IMF (Christine Lagarde) revealed a picture of the cowboy capitalism that dominates Greece when she referred to the death threats made against her after speaking out on the rich and powerful avoiding taxes.

Speaking of the failure of some rich Greeks to pay their dues, Lagarde told the Financial Times last week that it was a topic best left alone because it had got her into trouble. “I better not say too much because, you know, when I have talked about Greece and its taxes before, I got death threats and we had to increase security,” she was quoted as saying.

The former French finance minister, who was put under formal investigation for potential criminal negligence by a court in Paris last month, then asked: “But is the shipping industry really paying its taxes? Are others? I don’t think so.”

Greek authorities launched the inquiry on Wednesday after Athens’ justice minister, Haralambos Athanasiou, announced that he had written to Lagarde asking that she provide further details about the alleged threats.

Athanasiou took the step after the IMF chief sparked widespread embarrassment with the claim. Fears abound that Lagarde’s seemingly off-the-cuff remarks could impact negatively on a country that has been kept afloat with emergency bailout funds from the EU and IMF for the past four years.

“How are we going to attract badly needed foreign investment when Greece is perceived not as a nation in which the rule of law prevails but as one as in which cartels and the mafia have the upper hand?” asked Dimitris Tsiodras, a leading commentator. “Lagarde is not alone. Others have received threats too,” he told the Guardian.

see full story in the The Guardian here

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