Former Finance Minister to face criminal charges over Lagarde List

Ex Finance Minister to face charges over Lagarde List

The Ex Finance Minister stands accused of tampering with the list of potential tax evaders to remove the names of his relatives.

THETOC TEAM
ΓΡΑΦΕΙ: THETOC TEAM

The former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou is to sit in the dock over his alleged tampering of the Lagarde List.

Following a 4-1 decision by a council of the Supreme Court, Papaconstantinou is to be tried in the Special Court which deals with issues of Ministerial misconduct.

He is to be tried on criminal charges of attempted breach of trust at the expense of the state and improperly interfering with a document.

The Supreme Court judges however ruled that he will not face the charge of dereliction of duty. They also ruled that his family not face prosecution.

Papaconstaninou and the Lagarde List

Giorgos Papaconstantinou was Finance Minister in the PASOK government led by George Papandreou which saw the debt crisis explode in Greece and the signing of the first bailout agreement (the Memorandum) between the government and the country’s troika of lenders. Papaconstantinou, who was Finance Minister between October 2009 and June 2011 revealed that Greece’s deficit was much larger than had been previously reported, a factor which saw Greece’s borrowing costs skyrocket and the country effectively frozen out of the markets.

The infamous ‘Lagarde List’ was a spreadsheet containing roughly 2,000 high income potential tax evaders with Swiss bank accounts. It was sent by Christine Lagarde in the summer of 2010 (while she was the French Finance Minister) to Papaconstantinou to assist the Greek authorities in clamping down on major tax offenders. The Greek list was a subset of a larger mass of data allegedly stolen by a computer technician working at HSBC’s Geneva branch which ended up in the hands of French police following a raid.

However the list was not investigated when Papaconstantinou was in office. The list then passed to Papaconstantinou’s successor in the Finance Ministry, Evangelos Venizelos who also failed to move forward with anything more than a limited investigation. The list was then subsequently ‘misplaced’ and found again. It became public in 2012 when a Greek journalist, Kostas Vaxevanis, published the names.

Following the scandal triggered by Vaxevanis and following the 2012 elections, the new Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras requested a new copy of the list from the French authorities.

When the two lists were compared it was found that the one already in the possession of the Greek authorities was missing the names of several of Papaconstantinou’s relatives.

In July 2013 Greek lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to send the former PASOK politician to trial on criminal charges of tampering with the list.

Mr Papaconstantinou rejects the allegations and his relatives on the list have denied evading taxes.

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