Two ongoing corruption cases sent to Greek Parliament — one relating to the Siemens scandal and one to the so-called ‘Lagarde list’ –– are to be “bumped up” the queue of cases pending and examined as a priority in Parliament’s Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency. The decision was taken unanimously on Thursday, following a recommendation made by Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou.
In making her recommendation, Konstantopoulou cited a report by the General Secretariat for Transparency issued under the previous government, according to which approximately 12 billion euros were lost annually as a result of corruption. The report also noted that the country would not have become bankrupt if effective action to fight corruption had been taken.
Konstantopoulou said it was Parliament’s “patent responsibility” to give priority to these two cases, that she said were two “living scandals that stain public life in the country.” She said the greater part of the material in the Siemens case had not been used in court, while the overwhelming majority of the evidence from the preliminary investigation concerning the Lagarde list had been “buried.”
On the part of the main opposition, New Democracy MP Haralambos Athanassiou, who was minister at the time the Secretariat for Transparency had issued its report, questioned whether the “mathematical calculations” it made were accurate. He defended the work done by the ND-PASOK coalition government to fight corruption, saying the legislation it passed had improved the country’s rankings on corruption by 25 places. He also rejected Konstantopoulou’s suggestion that the two cases had been “carefully and artfully kept quiet,” noting that both were currently in the courts.
Konstantopoulou’s proposal was approved by representatives of all parties in the Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency.
Both cases concern high-profile scandals that have been widely reported in Greece and abroad. The Siemens case relates to kickbacks given to Greek politicians and officials in exchange for lucrative public-sector contracts undertaken by the German multinational, while the Lagarde list refers to a leaked list of Greek depositors at a Swiss branch of HSBC, sent to Greek authorities by the then French finance minister Christine Lagarde in 2011, and the subsequent actions and omissions in its handling by Greek authorities.