Two major Greek Sunday newspapers claim that the name of the mother of former PM George Papandreou was ed on the Lagarde-List containing the names of Greeks who had accounts in Geneva-branch of HSBC. The allegations have caused an uproar in Greece, as the name of Margarita Papandreou was not listed on the list as such. Last night, a website had revealed that the name “M.P.” was not referring to Margarita Papandreou but to an employee of a wealthy businessman.
Mrs Papandreou and the former PM issued statements fiercely dismissing the allegations speaking of “interests that want to harm their family” and announced legal measures.
According to To Vima and Proto Thema the name of Margarita Papandreou was raised in a meeting of five financial crimes squad SDOE officials, but that it was not revealed to a Parliamentary committee investigating the infamous Lagarde-list.
George, Margarita Papandreou
An official with the Greek financial crimes squad SDOE has reportedly said that Margaret Papandreou, mother of former Prime Minister George Papandreou, is involved with a deposit of 550 million euros ($714.28 million) in the Geneva, Switzerland branch of HSBC, the biggest on a list of 2,059 Greeks with accounts there who haven’t been checked for tax evasion.
The depositor is reportedly a civil servant named Maria Panteli, but according to the Greek newspaper To Vima, Nikolaos Lekkas, the Manager-Comptroller of SDOE, said that, “Behind the biggest deposit on the list is Mrs. Margarita Papandreou.”
The report, a shifting convoluted tale, indicated that Panteli worked for a wealthy business executive, Sabi Mioni, who was born in Greece but now lives in Tel Aviv. Panteli has yet to be questioned. Vaxevanis reportedly said that Mioni told him that Panteli managed his financial affairs.
To Vima said that current SDOE chief Stelios Stassinopoulos, a friend of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, is aware of the story and that a director of a peripheral administration, Evangelos Karamanos, said Margaret Papandreou’s name was raised in a meeting of five SDOE officials, but that it was not revealed to a Parliamentary committee investigating the list.
Another former SDOE chief, Yiannis Kapeleris, reportedly said that Panteli’s list was on a list of the top 10 depositors – hers was the biggest – with $1.95 billion in the Swiss bank. Papaconstantinou previously testified that he asked Kapeleris to investigate the names, but Kapeleris insisted he was asked only for the tax profiles of the biggest depositors. (full story in EN Greek Reporter)
In an angry statement aging Margarita Papandreou described the editors-in-chief of To Vima and Proto Thema as “unmanly” and “immoral” for not contacting her directly and ask her on the issue before their publications.
In his statement George Papandreou spoke of a “vulgar operation by those who published rumors without prior investigation” and that the aim was to target him and his policies.
The two statement were answered by statements of To Vima and Proto Thema who said that this information was in the economic prosecutor’ findings on the Lagarde-List.
PASOK issued also a statement urging the replacement of the special secretary of SDOE, accusing the financial crimes squad being “a backstage broadcasting irresponsible slander manufactured and handled with great ease, undermining the rule of law and poisoning the atmosphere against selected political goals.”
PASOK’s statement comes after several website and internet users saw the involvement of the name of Margarita Papandreou as an attempt to so some internal political ‘cleaning up’ within the party founded by Andreas Papandreou in 1974. A party that ruled the country almost three decades. A party that suffered severe defeat at the May and June elections, as it was on power when the country sought he aid of EU/IMF bailout mechanism. Quite some commented that the allegations were an attempt to get rid of the Papandreou legacy in order to help PASOK to regain the preference of its former supporters.
Margarita Papandreou is the second wife of former PM Andreas Papandreou.
UPDATE Dec 3/2012: in a statement Nikolaos Lekkas, the managing controller of SDOE dismissed any claims he named anyone from the Lagarde-List saying he did not even have access to content of the list.