In The Market For A Yacht? Head To Athens' Alimos Marina For "Blue Water" Specials
The ongoing disclosure about the tax-evasion habits of Greece's rich and famous, has recently hit new amusement highs: a crack down on the ultra high net worth individuals, those who have one or more powerboats parked in the Athens marina, indicates that a majority have declared incomes of less than €40,000 in the past year "an amount that would barely cover their cost of fuel." The good news is that with yacht owners sweating, the sale offers on Athens yachts has surged. The unpleasant alternative - if owners refuse or are unable to pay new taxes, which could include a VAT at 23% on the price of the boat plus another 10% luxury tax, as well as a punitive fine, amounting to 66% of the cost of a new boat, the authorities will confiscate the boats. And as can be seen by this satellite photo of the Alimos Marina, there is more than enough boats for sale to satisfy even the most snobbish tastes.
“For sale” signs have appeared on a handful of gleaming Italian-made power boats and luxury motor-yachts after a team from SDOE, Greece’s financial police, visited the crowded Alimos marina near Athens.
Other yacht owners are trying to sell their craft by word of mouth as SDOE steps up a crackdown on tax evasion by high-earning Greeks.
“Make some discreet enquiries and you’ll find plenty of sellers,” said a marine technician who asked not to be named, gesturing towards a large vessel flying a Cayman Islands flag.
Oh and yes, all the bullshit about the imploded Greek economy being ahead of schedule was, shockingly, lies. Then again, with a tax department which recently relied on Google Earth photos to track down those with undeclared swimming pools, it is above par for expectations.
With first-half budget revenues lagging behind projections, the finance ministry is trying to boost tax inflows by attacking “lifestyle” tax evasion.
Last week it set a target of collecting at least €2.5bn this year in fines and back taxes owed by thousands of Greeks who “forgot” to declare ownership of yachts, swimming pools and luxury cars on their annual tax return.
“Among the big-ticket items were power boats costing up to €1.5m,” said Theodoros Floratos, a SDOE official co-ordinating the investigation of yacht owners.
As Greece’s economy boomed after the 2004 Athens Olympics, a 60-foot Azimut craft with a top speed of more than 30 knots became the status symbol of choice for successful professionals.
“There was an explosion of Athenians buying top-of-the-range power boats … Banks were lending more than half the purchase price to their private banking clients,” said Jonathan Chandler, a sailing yacht charterer.
Then again, in keeping up with the suddenly popular global approach to ignore a problem until it has bitten all those involved in the gluteus, it seems that the "90% off" offers are only yet above to hit the market.
Dozens of large powerboats were last week occupying prime waterfront berths around the Aegean Islands, amid reports the SDOE teams were still focusing exclusively on a cluster of big marinas around Athens.
Mr Chandler said: ”The mood seems almost defiant, with people out to enjoy a last blast cruise, whatever the consequences.”
Alas, the consequences will be there, once the vacations are done. And when the former yacht owners get back to work, and realize that not only is the 15th monthly check no longer there, but vacation days, and pension benefits have been whacked, the "defiant mood" will very soon turn quite ugly once again.