Greeks Say Lagarde List Scandal Taints Pols

WO-AM184_GKPOLL_G_20121228192612While the Parliament and government have yet to investigate the handling by a number of politicians of a list of 2,062 Greeks with $1.95 billion in deposits in a Swiss bank that hasn’t been checked for tax evasion, 61 percent of Greeks said in a survey they believe the case is one of the worst scandals yet in the many plaguing the country.

The results were shown in a poll by the VPRC company as lawmakers are set to decide whether there should be a probe of former finance minister George Papaconstantinou, who was the first Greek official to get his hands on the so-called Lagarde List. It was given him in 2010 by then French finance minister Christine Lagarde, now head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF,) one of the country’s international lenders.

In the poll, published in the newspaper I Ellada Avrio (Greece tomorrow), only a 13% of the respondents believe it to be a common fraud case and 81 percent said they believe that Papaconstantinou has a criminal responsibility after it was revealed that the names of three of his relatives were missing. He has denied any wrongdoing and said he was framed.

Some 76 percent of respondents also blame former prime minster and previous PASOK Socialist leader George Papandreou, who appointed Papaconstantinou. Another 71 percent fault Papaconstantinou’s successor, Evangelos Venizelos, now head of the party. He ejected Papaconstantinou after the revelation of the missing names. And more than half, or 51 percent, believe that interim premier Lucas Papademos has some responsibility.

The scandal is undermining efforts of the coalition government of Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras to try to right a struggling economy and as Greeks face another barrage of pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions while tax cheats have largely escaped punishment. The Lagarde List is seen by many Greeks as a symbol of the rich and powerful being protected while they have to pay.

Respondents who said they were with the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) said in much higher percentages that all the politicians involved were to blame.