Inquiry into Greek 'austerity architect'
Greek politicians launched an inquiry yesterday into allegations of misconduct by George Papaconstantinou, the former finance minister and architect of the country’s first austerity programme.
Greek MPs voted overwhelmingly to investigate Mr Papaconstantinou after claims that he not only failed to crack down on tax evasion but erased relatives’ names from a list of people with holdings in the Geneva branch of HSBC. The economist faces prosecution – and jail – if, on the basis of their findings, investigators decide by the end of February to try him.
The politician vehemently denied the charges. “I did not tamper with the data. It is inconceivable that I would have acted in such a way that would so blatantly involve me,” he said in a speech to the house.
The list, a dossier of more than 2,000 Greeks with accounts in Geneva, was first handed to Mr Papaconstantinou in late 2010 by the then French finance minister, Christine Lagarde.
French authorities received the names from a renegade HSBC employee who allegedly stole details of some 24,000 customers with offshore accounts in Switzerland. But while other countries, including crisis-hit Italy and Spain, acted on the list, Greece did not.
Mr Papaconstantinou, who has been expelled from the socialist Pasok party, admitted he did not know what happened to the list after his associates copied it on to a USB stick for “security reasons”. – (Guardian service)