As the Greek government scrabbles around for the money to refinance their maturing sovereign debt, it is revealed that the spouse of the country’s Secretary of State for Tourism has an unpaid tax bill of over €5 million.
Greece needs to find €9 billion tomorrow to repay its maturing ten year bonds. It needs money and has taken to ‘naming and shaming’ tax dodgers.
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Angela Gerekou resigned yesterday over the embarrassing revelation. Gerekou, who used to be an actress and model and has also reportedly appeared topless in a men’s magazine, is married to Tolis Voskopoulos a 1970s and 80s singer. According to the Greek Finance Ministry Mr Voskopoulos owes about €5.5 million (£4.7 million) in unpaid taxes and related late payment fines. It seems that he last paid tax in 1993 and now owes €3.2 million in tax and €2.3 million in fines. Mr Voskopoulos maintains that this is less about him and his tax position and more about damaging his wife’s career. The Ministry of Finance is investigating the tax authority’s handling of this particular case.
This resignation is not only embarrassing for Greece and the government, it also leaves the Tourism industry temporarily without a leader just at the time it needs one.
This has been interpreted as a message being sent out that tax dodgers will not be tolerated. It comes in the face of fierce union condemnation of the new austerity measures being imposed as a result of the disastrous state of the Greek economy. Most Greeks may support the need for such action but feel aggrieved that it is they, the innocent, that must pay the price.