Home Greek news economy Papaconstantinou Blames Venizelos Over Lagarde List

Papaconstantinou Blames Venizelos Over Lagarde List

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Lista_Lagard99Former Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou, who was ejected from the PASOK Socialist party after charges emerged that the names of three of his relatives were removed from a list of more than 2,000 Greeks with deposits in a Swiss bank, is pointing a finger at the party’s leader Evangelos Venizelos, who was his successor as the country’s top financial officer.

Papaconstantinou said Venizelos was implicated and indirectly accused him of setting up a frame. “If the list has been doctored… justice has to immediately investigate who had the motive to doctor it so heavy-handedly with the aim of incriminating me,” said Papaconstantinou.

He was referring to the so-called Lagarde List, named for former French finance minister Christine Lagarde – now head of the International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s international lenders – who said she gave it to Papaconstantinou in 2010. He said his office lost it, but now a new version has arisen from French authorities and it shows names missing. Papaconstantinou denied any wrongdoing. “The question of why the investigation I had ordered into the names on the Lagarde list stopped as soon as I left office must be answered,” he said.

Venizelos moved quickly to distance himself from the growing political brouhaha over the list that still hasn’t been checked for possible tax evaders as the government in which he serves as a coalition partner continues to hammer workers, pensioners and the poor with more pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions.

Prosecutors are examining the so-called Lagarde List,. The list – a new one obtained by Greek officials last week in Paris – has been sent to Parliament. The first did not contain the names now linked to Papaconstantinou. That has led a number of political leaders from different parties to call for Papaconstantinou’s immunity from prosecution for his work as a minister to be lifted.

Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga called for the immediate change of the law granting ministers immunity from prosecution, noting that the affair of the list had “once more brought the rot in the political system to the surface.” The major opposition party, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) said Papaconstantinou’s handling of the list should be investigated, although a Parliamentary committee earlier blocked a probe against him or Venizelos. SYRIZA accused the government of trying to blame the ex-minister for a broader scandal of “corruption, unchecked lawlessness and widespread tax evasion.”

Papaconstantinou denied doctoring the list but Venizelos ejected him within hours after that declaration on Dec. 28, although the Socialist leader had a copy of the list, and didn’t act on it when he was finance minister. Venizelos put all the blame on his predecessor as the PASOK leader is being challenged by rebels angry over his role in the Lagarde case and his unrelenting support for austerity, which has pushed support for the party down to the 5 percent range.

In a statement, the party said: “It is sad that, according to the prosecutor’s research there’s obvious evidence that the list was tampered with regarding relatives of former minister Mr. George Papaconstantinou. This results in an obvious and huge responsibility issue of Mr. Papaconstantinou since it was he who managed the case in the worst possible way, and furthermore, stated after two years that he lost the original CD.”

The statement added that, “It is clear that Mr. Papaconstantinou no longer belongs to PASOK,” and asked for a full Parliamentary inquiry, although a parliamentary committee earlier this month voted not to investigate the mishandling of the list by Papaconstantinou or Venizelos.

“The national interests demands the truth for everything and everybody. No one has the space for small party techniques, conspiracy games and deliberate confusion regarding the stance of particular people,” the statement said, adding that the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) should apologize to Venizelos for tying him to the issue.

SYRIZA immediately came back at PASOK and Venizelos and suggested he was trying to cover up his role in mishandling the list and failing to investigate for possible tax cheats. “The belated removal of Papaconstantinou doesn’t disprove Mr. Venizelos’ personal responsibility and also PASOK in their attempt to cover and hide the case in the Lagarde List … it is unthinkable that those people are who are responsible for the case to come out clean,” the SYRIZA statement added.

PAPACONSTANTINOU DENIES ALL

Greek media reported that judicial sources suggested that the names of three of the PASOK’s official’s relatives had been excised and that they were investigating why. “There has been a deplorable process of leaks and description of names related to the Lagarde list, according to which people from my wider family circle are being identified and speculation about the list being doctored has spread,” Papaconstantinou said in a statement.

Papaconstantinou stated “categorically” that he is not connected to any bank account on the list of depositors, that he has not intervened in the list and passed it on to authorities untouched and that he had no knowledge of the list containing accounts belonging to his relatives.

“I will not accept guilt being assigned where it does not exist and being made a sacrificial lamb for this issue,” he added. “After all, it was thanks to my initiative that this information came to Greece. I gave the data to the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) to investigate. I ask that all the information comes to light and for a full investigation to take place.”

Speaking to Greek state radio from the Netherlands, Papaconstantinou said it was inconceivable that he would take such an “idiotic” risk as doctoring the list of depositors. He said that the list given him by Lagarade more than two years ago mysteriously vanished from his office.

SKAI TV first reported the link to the three names, who were not identified, as Greece has strict privacy laws. The newspaper Kathimerini reported that the three were relatives of his. The report did not identify who they were as Greece has strict privacy laws, but the TV station, which is connected to the newspaper, said one of the three is said to have deposits at HSBC Bank in Geneva of $1.22 million.

Earlier this year, after Papaconstantinou said the list had disappeared, current Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras vowed to find it. That prompted Papaconstantinou’s successor as finance minister and now head of the PASOK Socialists, Evangelos Venizelos, to produce a copy.

Venizelos said he set it aside and didn’t act on it because it came from a larger CD holding the names of European depositors in the Geneva branch of HSBC Bank that had been stolen by a former employee. Lagarde though said other European countries were using it to probe tax evasion.

WHO DUN IT?

There were allegations that as many as 600 names had been removed from the list given authorities by Venizelos but that has been disputed. Still, the failure by the two former finance ministers, as well as two former heads of the financial crimes squad SDOE, Yiannis Kapeleris and Yiannis Diotis, to investigate the list has infuriated a public crunched by austerity and as the Greece’s lenders have demanded a crackdown on tax cheats who owe more than $70 billion.

Prosecutors said they spent six days cross-checking the two documents to find out if any names were removed. The prosecutors did not reveal if the initial list had been tampered with. “They compiled a most detailed report that was submitted to the Greece’s highest civilian court with the request to be forwarded to Parliament,” a court official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Greece has so far failed to convict any big names of tax evasion, fueling popular disenchantment with a political class that promised to force the wealthy to share some of the pain of the debt crisis. “The lies are at an end, our people seek the truth, judgment day nears,” Panos Skourletis, SYRIZA’s spokesman said. “End the charade now and publish all the names,” the Communist KKE party said in a statement.

No names on any of the lists have been officially released yet. A Greek investigative journalist who published the names of 2,059 account holders allegedly on the Lagarde List was charged for breaching privacy laws and acquitted, but while the government still isn’t pursuing alleged tax cheats it is prosecuting him again.

Earlier this month, a parliamentary committee controlled by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition government, which includes his New Democracy Conservatives, the PASOK Socialists and the tiny Democratic Left, blocked an investigation into whether Papaconstantinou and Venizelos had mishandled the list and whether there was any tampering with it.
(Sources: Kathimerini, Reuters)

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  • worldarts

    The whole Political system of PASOK and New Democracy’s 37 year rule shows they are rotten to the core and working in collusion with one another to rob the country and Greek people and they must be made to pay…

    Why is Mr. Papaconstantinou suddnely hiding in USA with George Papandreaou?
    Why has Akis Tzahzopolous not be sent to trial yet?
    Why is Mr. Mermerakis still Speaker in Vouli after his crimes?
    Why was Mr. Christoforakos allowed to hide in Germany after the Seimen’s Scandal?

    The whole thing stinks of rot and decay of morals and integrity in government and they MUST be punished for their high CRIMES against the State!       

  • The maverik

    May I remind readers that this issue will not see the light of day and no one will be investigated and if found guilty will not be prosecuted because they are the ones who support politicians financialy in their campaigns including samara himself…We all know that Greek politicians are corrupt so nothing will change and we will never know the contents of this list…

  • Adde

    Why Am I not surprised ? Seriously, if we would have a functionning justice, I wonder how many politicians and their relatives wouldn’t be jailed.

  • Deep_Sea_Diver

    You have raised some VERY interesting questions there Worldarts. I believe, unless the EU force’s the Greek government to act on this ongoing scandal & press for prosecutions, nothing will ever change. I would love to be a fly on the wall with a hearing aid behind some Greek parliamentary doors over the next few days, as I think there will be some interesting talk going on about how to cover all this up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506424224 Peter Zorbas

    A country’s legal system is its backbone; without one, there’s a dim chance of a country being able to cope with a system of oligarch capitalist crime.  Once the justice system can reliably function without any outside influences, and can morally determine cases according to the law, corrupt officials will find it hard to manoeuvre and be forced to work within the system.  Unfortunately, Greece is poisoned and it’s rooted so far in, that a complete flush of the whole political/justice landscape seems to be the only solution.  It’s very unfortunate to have such criminal behaviour ingrained deep into society, but a fresh start is badly needed.

  • leventi

    Deep Sea Diver is right. The EU has to step in and force Greece to act. Investigating and prosecuting the guilty ones should have been a pre-condition to more bailout funds.

  • The maverik

     Adde, there is not justice in Greece also politicians are above the law…

  • Choralife

    In a perfect world they would put more pressure on the government, but unfortunately the EU and the Trioka are currently supporting the very same political parties and politicians responsible for the corruption. Thereby covering their own backsides as well.

    If a politician accepts bribes then the next question has to be asked, of who is paying those bribes.The rot goes deeper than Greece.  

  • worldarts

    If you will also notice it was also Mr. Venizelos who pushed the illegal use
    of Parliament to issue 23% increase in charges on Electric bills to defraud and
    over-tax citizens against their will by bending the rules of Law to suit is will
    when he was criminally hiding the “Legarde List” for 2 years which would have
    recovered million of dollars in hidden monies in the UBS and other Swiss Banks.

  • The maverik

    Venizelos is a corrupt politician too and he should be hanged from his balls in Syndagma square because he is a traitor like all other politicians and since there are no legal system and justice in Greece these corrupt politicians will roam free sh@##$%g on us unable to stop them…

  • petetsak

    There is no hope of making the people on the list pay their dues, they have had two years to clear and close their accounts.

    What is important is that the corrupt politicians who did nothing about the list are properly punished !

    Somehow, I doubt that will ever happen because Samaras is dependent on the the fat bully boy to keep him in power and will do whatever it takes to cover it all up !

    So, what will happen?Unfortunately,nothing,unless the press and the reporters start campaigning on behalf of the Greek people and expose these criminals for what they are!

    I so hope that Venizelos will not get away with it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Adde

    You better not trust the EU. When our corrupt politicians tried repetedly to ask the EU to help protect our border with Turkey, they were always turned down so can France and Germany can make money to seel us weapons. The European Union is a joke. Each country cares for his own interests. Germany for example is making profit from our crisis as they have recognized in one of their newspapers. They will destroy Hellas to survive if needed. Never forget that we are all alone. Others Europeans don’t care about us. The best they will do is send us cheers so we keep our moral up.

  • Adde

    I know, our government is the biggest mafia of all Europe. With the exception of the albanian mafia who rules Kosovo, it’s the only mafia with a land and an army. …

  • A.Macmillan

     Politicians and big business are it together everywhere…not just in Greece.All other European countries are just as corrupt….Look at Britain,with the Rupert Murdoch scandal involving practically every element in British public life.Look at Italy…with the foul Berlusconi still trying to manipulate the political system,however discredited and disgraced he is. Didn’t  Britain have Blair..the world’s most accomplished liar and warmonger?.Greece has an utterly corrupt political system…yes. But ,as the Greek people are finding out now,this corruption in Greece is intertwined and enmeshed and embedded in the political systems of all other European countries…and the USA. Germany is one of the worst offenders over the financial scandals which have led Greece to the brink of the abyss…so let’s have no more claptrap mabout German prudence and propriety.(Ask Siemens and their like about who and how and why they bribed officials in Greece to the tune of tens of millions of euros.)It’s a whole POLITICAL CLASS operating internationally for its own benefit and enrichment.That political class gives not a damn for ordinary citizens and their hopes and needs. It needs them only to TAX them…..to CONSCRIPT them..and as CONSUMERS. The last is backfiring on the greedy bastards for obvious reasons.No matter how they twist and turn….if they tax their citizens to the bitter end….those citizens cease to be such effective consumers…..and big business starts to get nervous.

  • The maverik

    You are quite right Adde…

  • The maverik

    Papa blames Veni, Veni blames Papa and will never know who is the culprit in this saga…Greek politicians are super professionals in cover ups so the truth will never beknown to us down the line…

  • The maverik

    To all readers…The so called “Lagarde List” willnever be investigated…Politicians will lose allot more than what they bargained for in case investigation will take place…Tax evaders are the main supplier of cash to politicians’ campaigns therefore this list will find its way at the deep end of the ocean…Corruption in Greece is well rooted and it will take years to end this practice unless we have a strong justice system with strong will and harsh sentences but for now we don’t have a reliable justice system to co-op with Greece’s’ state of affairs…

  • http://www.facebook.com/nancy.elwell.7 Nancy Elwell

    Put that damned crook Venizelos in jail. Long overdue. And the rest of the folks on the list at the same time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nancy.elwell.7 Nancy Elwell

    to day nothing of most of the cival servantsl all the police tax collectore doctors and lawyers

  • vexed

    The Greek people can no longer expect justice unless it is seen to be administered. How can this be achieved in the face of a flawed judicial system. Only by the Troika linking detailed reforms to financial support. 

    First step must be the removal of ministerial immunity from prosecution during their lifetime. This should ensnare most of the culprits and their associates. The rest will be caught up in the ensuing recriminations. Politicians involving themselves in personal enrichment and nepotism must be made to realise that there is nowhere to hide. Politics must no longer be seen as a mechanism for protecting family interests.

    As nobody in Greece has any faith in the ability of existing institutional structures delivering justice they should be prepared to accept the temporary imposition (directly or indirectly) of external sanctions. Infringement of sovereignty has no place in this, it is the constant playing of this card by generations of politicians that has led us to where we are today.

    Let us accept a bit of humility, recognise that other countries do some things better than we do, ask for and accept advice, adopt best practise and learn to take pride in ourselves. Asking for help from friends is a start.