Greece’s Government Confiscating Contents Of Bank Safe Deposit Boxes?

“Almost three months after total access to bank safe deposit boxes and their contents was restored by the Greek government, I can’t help but think that confidence in these containers stored in financial institutions has got to be shredded…”

Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes, October 9, 2015

Just when the reputation of bank safe deposit boxes couldn’t get any worse comes this out of Greece. Anthee Carasavva reported on The Times (UK) website back on October 12:

Greece’s government is raiding savers’ safe deposit boxes to raise revenue and stamp out tax evasion.

Tryfon Alexiadis, the deputy finance minister, said yesterday that Greeks owing more than €150,000 in back taxes would be targeted. Those suspected of tax evasion would also come under scrutiny and their bank deposit boxes prised open without notice

“Safe deposit boxes across the country will be subject to these inspections immediately,” Mr Alexiadis told an Athens-based TV network…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I haven’t heard much more about this development since the statement was made. However, I have come across some commentary on the situation. Equities expert Dennis Miller said on Equities.com this past Tuesday:

The Times reports (link firewall protected) the government is proposing the idea prying open the safety deposit boxes of suspected tax cheats. “Under the unprecedented measure, tax inspectors will be allowed to open bank boxes and confiscate as much as half of the cash they find. Stocks, bonds, jewelry and even works of art will be confiscated in their entirety.” 70% of the Greek population is reportedly in favor of the idea. My guess is a “suspected tax cheat” is anyone with a safety deposit box

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regarding that bit about tax evasion suspects, Mark Yaxley of Cayman Islands private vault Strategic Wealth Preservation penned back on October 20:

The government’s justification is that they’re chasing tax evaders, stating that they’re targeting those who owe more than €150,000 in back taxes. However, they have also revealed that they will target any boxes held by those who are “suspected” of tax evasion and, since literally anyone can become a suspect at any moment, without having to be charged with a crime, inspectors will have the authorisation to decide on the spot that a box holder is “suspected” of tax evasion

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If I was a financial institution that received substantial revenue from safe deposit box rentals, I might be a little pissed at certain Greek financial officials right now. Potential box renters are bound to think twice about keeping valuables in a bank safe deposit box when merely the suspicion of being a tax cheat could lead to confiscation of personal belongings in that secured container. Less rentals equals decline in revenue.

Greece now, who next?

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

Sources:

Carassava, Anthee. “Athens to raid bank safes of tax cheats.” The Times. 12 Oct. 2015. (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/europe/article4582794.ece). 6 Nov. 2015.

Miller, Dennis. “Saving Money Against the Illusion of Safety.” Equities.com. 3 Nov. 2015. (http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/personal-finance/retirement/saving-money-against-the-illusion-of-safety). 6 Nov. 2015.

Yaxley, Mark. “SWP Alert – Greek Government to Begin Looting Safe Deposit Boxes.” Strategic Wealth Preservation. 20 Oct. 2015. (http://www.swpcayman.com/news/greek-looting-safe-deposit-boxes.php). 6 Nov. 2015.

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