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1 in 2 Greek businesses caught cheating the taxman

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Nationwide spot checks by Greek tax inspectors have found that almost every other business is cheating the taxman in some way.

Despite repeated campaigns by successive governments, tax fraud remains a major problem in debt-hobbled Greece.

A Finance Ministry statement Friday said 731 of the 1,465 companies checked from July 25 to Aug. 5 had violated tax laws. The highest rate of non-compliance — 85 percent of those checked — was on the islands of Evia and Skyros.

The top tourist destinations of Mykonos, Santorini and Crete had rates of over 56 percent of the businesses investigated.

Over the past three years, Greeks have been clobbered with successive tax hikes under a deeply resented austerity program demanded by international creditors in exchange for vital rescue loans.