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IMF's Christine Lagarde, Who Chastised Greek Tax Evaders, Pays No Taxes

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
Chip Somodevilla
Getty Images
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

The International Monetary Fund's boss, Christine Lagarde, made a lot of Greeks very angry with an interview she gave The Guardian on Friday.

Essentially, Lagarde said she has very little sympathy for the Greeks and that if they want to solve their financial problems they should just pay their taxes.

Here's what she told the paper exactly:

"'Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.'

"Even more than she thinks about all those now struggling to survive without jobs or public services? 'I think of them equally. And I think they should also help themselves collectively.' How? 'By all paying their tax. Yeah.'

"It sounds as if she's essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe, you've had a nice time and now it's payback time.

"'That's right.' She nods calmly. 'Yeah.'"

Today, The Guardian ran the pot-kettle-black story, pointing out that Lagarde with her $467,940 a year salary and her $83,760 yearly allowance does not pay any taxes.

She's not a tax dodger; it's just that the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations of 1961 exempts diplomats from "all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal."

With that in mind The NewStatesman still comes down hard on Lagarde.

"... Right or not, it seems like a good rule of thumb that if you do not pay any tax, you do not get to tell other people off for not paying tax," the magazine writes. "Especially if you earn around twenty times the median wage of the country you are telling off."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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