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Greek former FinMin denies tampering with Lagarde list

English.news.cn   2012-12-28 22:55:26            

ATHENS, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Greek former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou denied on Friday allegations that he had tampered with the so-called Lagarde list of over 2,000 Greek major depositors in an HSBC branch in Geneva.

Papaconstantinou is linked to four accounts on the original Lagarde list, Greek media reported on Friday.

The list is said to have been handed to him in 2010 by his then French counterpart Christine Lagarde in the context of efforts to crack down on wide-spread tax evasion in Greece and overcome the Greek debt crisis.

Even though no official announcement on the results of an relevant investigation has been made, as the list was sent to parliament for further probing, the reports have caused an uproar in Athens and led to the expulsion of Papaconstantinou from the socialist PASOK party which participates in the coalition government.

"I categorically state that I am not connected to any bank account on the list, I did not intervene in any way in the data I requested and received from French authorities, and I have no idea whether persons from my wider family are included," he said in a press statement released to media.

He called for a full investigation, stressing that he will not accept being made into a "sacrificial lamb" in this affair.

According to judicial leaks, data on accounts belonging to two cousins' of Papaconstantinou have been erased from the list he received from Lagarde, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

In his testimony before a parliamentary committee in October this year, when the case resurfaced and a list was printed in Greek media, Papaconstantinou said that the initial list was lost.

In December, upon the request of current Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Paris sent again the original list to Greek financial prosecutors.

"George Papaconstantinou handled the issue in the worst possible way...It is obvious he does no longer belong to PASOK," a party statement said on Friday.

PASOK, as well as all other parties represented in the parliament, called for a thorough investigation into the case so that state officials responsible for the mishandling of the data will be brought to justice.

Political analysts in Athens commented on Friday that Papaconstantinou might be in the spotlight, but he is not the only former official to be blamed for Greece's failure to crack down on tax dodging.

His successors to the post claimed that they never saw the Lagarde list, or that it does not contain any significant information which could be used to uncover possible tax dodgers.

Tax evasion is considered as one of the key factors behind the current crisis which has led to the dramatic decline in living conditions for many Greeks after two years of tough austerity imposed to slash deficits and avert default.

According to estimates, tax dodging costs Greece approximately 30 billion euros (39.6 billion U.S. dollars) per year, about 15 percent of its GDP.

Editor: yan
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