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Mykonos mayor accused of fraud

Mykonos island waterfront

Mykonos island mayor accused of tax fraud.

It used to be something of a joke among holiday visitors that people in the tourist trade in the Greek Islands never paid taxes. And Greek tax officials admitted earlier this year that tax cheating rates on some Greek islands were at levels of 100% as no businesses ever paid any tax bills. Police even had to be called in to the island of Hydra when protesters threatened to release a restaurant owner being held in a police cell accused of tax evasion.

But austerity measures have brought a new attitude to tax cheats on the Greek islands and a crackdown by tax officers on those accused of fiddling their taxes.

In the latest incident the mayor of Mykonos, Thanasis Kousathanas-Mega, a former mayor Christos Veronis, two deputy mayors and six employees at the island's finance department face fraud charges over the alleged issue of fake documents to cover up a scheme to siphon off €6 million of tax revenues.

A total of 11 hotel owners on Mykonos also face misdemeanour charges in the same case after allegedly setting up a scheme to pocket some of their own taxes themselves and to evade paying others.

The mayor of Mykonos and the two deputy mayors are out on bail ranging from €50,000 to €150,000 and two finance department employees have been remanded in custody while two were released and two more are being questioned by police over alleged large-scale embezzlement of municipal funds.

The allegations came to light nearly three years ago when a complaint was lodged by Mykonos hotel owner who claimed he was required to pay municipal taxes twice.

Mykonos island magistrates are understood to be summoning managers at two banks to question them in connection with the same case.

Mykonos is one of the most well-known and most visited Greek islands in the world and a popular spot for party-goers. The island has many nightclubs and tavernas that cater for visitors on Greek Island holidays.

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