Journalist Who Leaked “Lagarde List” Arrested



Costas Vaxevanis

Greek Police arrested the journalist who published the list with the names of 2,059 people who made $1.95 billion in deposits in the Geneva, Switzerland HSBC bank branch. The arrest took place at a house of a friend of the Greek journalist in the Northern suburbs of Athens around 11.30 a.m. on Oct. 28.  As he was getting arrested Vaxevanis tweeted to his followers and asked them to help him “in this unlawful arrest.”

Greek police said that the prosecutor ordered the arrest of the investigative journalist and publisher of ‘Hot-Doc’ magazine because by publishing the list he violated  the Greek laws on releasing private data.

“The prosecutor issued a warrant for Vaxevanis’s arrest because he published a list of names without special permission and violated the law on personal data,” a police official said. It’s not unlawful for Greeks to have accounts in another country as long as they are declared and taxes are paid on them.

‘Hot Doc,’ the magazine who leaked the list, stressed that people on the list should not be considered tax evaders unless it is proved they did not pay taxes on the deposits. “It is apparent that a large portion of deposits are not justified with the income of depositors. Proof is that most accounts were closed after the bank briefed on the data leaking.”

Vaxevanis wrote that he had received the list content on a USB memory stick “by somebody” who wrote to HOT DOC that s/he “believed that the list has been misused for political and economic purposes for two years.”

He was immediately released after his arrest for leaking the list that had been given to then Greek Finance Minister Papaconstantinou in 2010 by then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarade – now the head of the IMF. Papaconstantinou said he lost it and neither he nor his successor, Evangelos Venizelos, now the head of the PASOK Socialist, checked to see if there were any tax cheats on the list as the government was imposing brutal pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions on Greek workers, pensioners and the poor.

He is to appear in court at noon on Oct. 29 when the date of his trial, on charges of violating laws relating to the privacy of personal data, is to be set, which critics said showed how fast the Greek government acted to quell a whistle blower while letting thousands of tax cheats escape. Vaxevanis noted how swift the justice system worked to apprehend him but has not prosecuted tax evaders.

Vaxevanis made several postings on his Twitter account before being taken in. “They’re entering my house with a prosecutor now, they’re arresting me. Spread the word.” He described the police surrounding the house of a friend where he was arrested, as “fascist militia.”

In an interview uploaded onto the Internet before his arrest, following the announcement that a warrant had been put out, he said he was being unfairly targeted. “Instead of arresting the tax evaders and the ministers who had the list in their hands, they are trying to arrest the truth and freedom of the press,” he said.

Watch the video with Vaxevanis’ response after the prosecutor ordered his arrest:

[youtube]HNkCcgh5mUY[/youtube]


15 COMMENTS

  1. Vaxevanis is a hero.

    1,991 people who made $1.95 billion
    catch them – control them – punish them.

  2. They arrest the man who released the list of thieves immediately, but they don’t arrest the thieves?!

    CORRUPT POLITICIANS WILL BE DEFEATED. WE MUST TAKE IT IN OUR OWN HANDS TO TRACK THEM DOWN!

  3. Leaked or reported……a very fine line for a journalist. Catch the tax evaders and don’t shoot the messenger.

  4. So next week, it’s okay to release the names of every Greek who has a gun in his house….and then hope that thieves don’t kill them. 

    After that, release the name and houses of every banker. 

    Then everyone who has more then a million Euros.

    Then a hundred thousand Euro’s. 

    And then the names of everyone who withdrew money last week. 

    And then……

    Greeks should be proud of their envy…..and failures.  

  5. What if they are not tax evaders? What if they were businessman or families who simply chose to movetheir money to safer banks? 

    How will this witch hunt go? 

  6. congratulation to greek authorities !!
    it would be more beautiful if it was mr. Venizelos and mr. Papakonstantinou instead of police to arrest the jurnalist.

    HOW YOU DARE mr. VAXEVANI TO TOUCH OUR FRIENDS !

    i don’t know but the feeling is that the best greek tragedies are not written yet

  7. 1. As most of the comments here and on greek sites prove, MOST people are assuming that the persons named are tax evaders. Vaxevanis has disingenuously asked people NOT to assume this, knowing that they will do so!
    2. The list-as released by Hot Docs-seems dodgy: there are descriptions in three different languages (French, English, Italian). If this list is authentic and was compiled by one authority, presumably from the bank, why the different languages?
    3. The big names are not on this list: it has been cleaned up, if it was the authentic list. The arrest of Vaxevanis is a show to distract attention away from the “negotiations” with the Troika.

  8. The question is : WHY does they have such a big amount of money?
    Are they tax evaders? If yes – they have to be punished.

  9.  Yes, John it is perfectly fine to publish the names of those who carry out the nation’s wealth to their Swiss accounts.  Heck, if they have nothing to hide then it should not be a problem for them.  Do you think that the average Greek doesn’t know who the millionaires are?
      Face it John, you now live in the information age, and in most countries that type of information is already public.
      Those privacy laws you have in Greece are a way of protecting the status quo!
    Jo

  10. Today the Petition website is BLOCKED here in Greece. Last night it was virally growing with signees from all over the world – it reached 19,000. Now ITS BLOCKED. This is exactly like totalitarian China where I just lived for 8 years. And Greece under the 10 year Police State of the terrifying Junta. People being taken away all the time and never heard of again. 

  11. Joda2525, Most countries do not publish reviews of how much tax each citizen has paid in their media: it is a private matter between the government & the citizen. The government has to be functional & trustworthy: this is the problem in Greece, no-one trusts the government, and for good reason. Instead of pushing for reforms and transparency in tax reporting for citizens & businesses,we have this circus. The ringmaster, Mr Vaxevanis is making money out of it for his Hot Docs magazine. He is getting priceless international publicity at the expense of Greece: his actions are not constructive. I think he is just another leech…

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