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Witch-hunt with the "Lagarde List"

31 December 2012 / 15:12:08  GRReporter
4147 reads

Victoria Mindova

One of the most recent political scandals codenamed the "Lagarde List" that has caused a furor in the world is starting to resemble a medieval witch-hunt. This is the common opinion in Greece, the conclusion for which we can draw from the stream of comments of officials and ordinary citizens in the social media.

The name of former Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou is at the centre of the scandal. A preliminary investigation against him by a special parliamentary committee is currently being prepared to determine whether he had deliberately removed the names of four relatives from a list of bank accounts of Greeks abroad. The Finance Minister of France at the time, Christine Lagarde, sent the list in 2010 to her Greek counterpart in order for the government to find out whether the names on it included people who had not paid taxes for the money deposited abroad.

The discussions are now turning to the question of why the names of Papakonstantinou’s close circle were absent from the first version of the list but are present in the second version, which has recently been sent to Athens. The natural suspicion is that the former top financier of Greece tried to hide shady deals. Papakonstantinou himself hints that such an offence is too violent for his style, insisting that he was "framed". He indirectly indicates as his executioner the current leader of PASOK, Evangelos Venizelos, who succeeded to the financial ministry after Papakonstantinou’s deposition in 2011. It is an open secret that Venizelos was an internal opposition to George Papandreou’s government in which Papakonstantinou served as the prime minister’ right hand and as finance minister.

The story about the "Lagarde List" is more than unclear, not only because of the missing names but also because of the long delay in its announcement. Once the first version of the list had remained in the ministerial drawers for almost a year and a half, it appeared unexpectedly in the "Hot doc" magazine of leftist journalist Kostas Vaxevanis. He commented on the developments of the case in his Twitter profile, "The scandal with the list is not related to the deletion of three names but to the concealment of 2062 names by Papakonstantinou, Venizelos and three governments. This is what they want to conceal."

Vaxevanis shares the opinion expressed by the parliamentary opposition SYRIZA party and insists that the current leader of PASOK, Evnagelos Venizelos, and his predecessor George Papandreou should be deemed liable for the concealment of the "Lagarde List." He believes that the socialists want to bring the entire burden of the case on George Papakonstantinou quickly and without going into details and to free other party members from persecution.

The media and communications expert, Stratos Safioleas, is not different to the developments either. "The shameful backroom deal excludes Venizelos from inquiry. Greek society won’t buy it; SYRIZA will capitalize on it," says Safioleas. He predicts that the need for social justice and the distrust in the political system will give further impetus to the country's citizens to demand full disclosure of the case, but it is not yet known whether this will happen. However, one of the many Twitter users states with irony, "So, Venizelos is trying to convince us that only Papakonstantinou is responsible for the famous list. He is just an innocent, fluffy ducky ..."

The liberal Gregory Vallianatos says, "Everything written about Papakonstantinou and the names on the list seems so naive to me." Apparently, he also agrees that George Papakonstantinou has been chosen to be the scapegoat in the search of those in the political system who are guilty for the state of the country. In another comment, he states that he believes that there is no hope for the entire truth about the case being presented until the main faces familiar from the Greek media and on the lists are not replaced.

The original name of the list of Europeans with large accounts in Swiss Bank is the "Falciani List." It comes from the family of an employee at a branch of HSBC in Sweden, who took the list from the bank archive in 2009. Once the data fell into the hands of the prosecution, it was sent to the interested parties. Germany, France, Portugal and Spain collected hundreds of millions and even billions of euro from cross tax audits of the state of the individuals on these lists. In Greece, however, the delay of this process continues.


Tags: Crime newsPapakonstantinouLagarde ListGreeceCrisisTaxesFrauds
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