Former Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou denied accusations that he removed relatives’ names from a list of about 2,000 Greeks with deposits in Swiss banks.
The so-called “Lagarde list” is an electronic file of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts that was given to Greece in 2010 by then-French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde. Handling of the list has drawn criticism from opposition parties and lawmakers in Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s three-party governing coalition.
Greece will only be able to collect up to 20 percent of 53 billion euros of outstanding taxes it is owed, according to a report by the European Union and International Monetary Fund dated November and released last week. The country’s economy is expected to contract for a sixth year in 2013, according to Finance Ministry forecasts released on Oct. 31.
Media reports today, including on Skai TV, said the names of three people related to Papaconstantinou had been removed from the list before the former Pasok minister submitted the data to the country’s economic crimes unit to investigate. The accounts of the people removed have at least $1.22 million in deposits, Athens-based Skai reported, without citing anyone.
“I won’t accept this fabrication of guilt which doesn’t exist nor will I become the scapegoat in this case,” Papaconstantinou said in an e-mailed statement today. “I have absolutely no connection to any account on that list. I have not tampered in any way with the data, which I had requested and received from the French authorities.”
Pasok, which supports Samaras’s coalition, expelled Papaconstantinou from the party saying he handled the issue “in the worst way possible,” according to a statement e-mailed by the party today.
In October police arrested a Greek journalist for releasing the names on the Lagarde list, saying he breached Greek privacy laws. The journalist, Kostas Vaxevanis, said in a video message that he published the list because of government inaction in following up on the names of potential tax evaders.
The main opposition Syriza party said it will ask for a parliamentary committee to be set up to investigate the developments, which are included in a supplementary brief by the prosecutor’s office, submitted to Parliament today.
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