October 20, 2015 / 6:59 PM / 5 years ago

Greece's top tax collector refuses to quit in TV advert revenue row

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s top tax collection official on Tuesday rejected calls from the prime minister to quit over alleged delays in enforcing a law on collecting taxes on television adverts and denied accusations of any wrongdoing.

Katerina Savvaidou heads the Public Revenues Authority and also helps Greece prepares its position in bailout negotiations with international lenders, who are expected to launch fresh consultations in Athens on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras asked for her resignation on Oct. 16, a day after a Greek prosecutor charged her with breach of duty. Savvaidou said a resignation could be considered tacit acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

It was unclear if the row could have an impact on the pace of the bailout review. So far, the creditors, who agreed a new 86 billion euro bailout for Greece two months ago, have not reacted to the resignation call.

Representatives of the lenders are in Athens until Friday to assess the country’s compliance with a raft of measures needed to comply with bailout terms, including pension reform and clamping down on tax evasion.

Court officials said Savvaidou prepared a circular in January 2015 extending by about a year collection processes on revenues from TV advertising, in violation, they said, of existing regulations.

Savvaidou, who was appointed in mid-2014 by the then conservative government, said any actions she took were compliant with the law.

“I refused to resign from my post, because I cannot depart at a time when my attention to duties is being questioned in such an unfounded manner ... and my honesty and dignity is being slighted,” Savvaidou said in a written statement.

She said any action taken concerning collection methods was vetted for legal compliance by relevant government authorities before being published in the country’s Official Gazette, and government officials were well aware of her decisions.

“I will not allow any resignation on my part to be considered a tacit acknowledgement on my part of involvement in any scandal, nor turn the independent Public Revenues Authority into an intimidated tax administration which cannot carry out its duties,” she said.

Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Alison Williams

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