Magazine article Insight on the News

Tax Cheats and Crooks Sweat as Euro Looms

Magazine article Insight on the News

Tax Cheats and Crooks Sweat as Euro Looms

Article excerpt

The race is on in Europe to spend, spend, spend! -- in short, to dump huge amounts of cash before the July 2002 deadline requiring national currencies to be converted into euro notes and coins. And much of the cash suddenly sloshing around Europe is believed to be the proceeds of illegal gain or money not declared to the taxman.

Italy's black economy is estimated at $260 billion -- roughly 30 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Now Italian tax evaders and crooks are scratching their heads about how to unload their cash or convert it into euros without tipping off the tax authorities and police.

European bankers say that, with next year's deadline looming, there are clear signs of panic as illegal pesetas, lira, francs and deutsche marks are off-loaded. "Tax cheats and crooks are facing a big problem. That is why so many are panic-buying," says a French banker.

French and Spanish authorities estimate there is $40 billion worth of illegal francs and pesetas. …

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