Greek journalist back on trial for publishing Swiss bank list

Costas Vaxevanis published names of 2,000 Greeks with money in Swiss accounts


A Greek journalist who published the names of more than 2,000 wealthy Greeks with money in Swiss bank accounts appeared in court again today for a retrial after being acquitted of violating privacy laws.

The retrial of Costas Vaxevanis is likely to revive international outcry and accusations that the media is being muzzled.

Mr Vaxevanis was acquitted last year but a state prosecutor successfully pressed for a retrial in a higher court, saying the initial verdict was flawed and there was new evidence.

If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to two years or be fined. Tuesday’s court hearing was adjourned and a date for when the trial will continue will be announced on October 21st, Mr Vaxevanis said on Twitter. News of the existence of the “Lagarde List” caused a scandal in Greece as it appeared to show that successive governments had failed to go after possible tax evasion by wealthy individuals while heaping austerity on everyone else.

The list, handed to Greece by French authorities in 2010, names 2,059 Greeks with HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland to be investigated for possible tax evasion, including prominent business figures and two politicians. It was named after then-French finance minister Christine Lagarde.

Greeks were shocked by the saga of how the list was passed from one senior Athens official to the next and misplaced at one point apparently without anyone taking action.

In July, Greek MPs voted in favour of pressing criminal charges against former finance minister George Papaconstantinou after prosecutors found that the names of three of his relatives had been deleted from the list.

Mr Papaconstantinou has denied any wrongdoing, saying he was the victim of an attempt to incriminate him.