For former Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou the New Year’s Eve fire cracker went of earlier than planned. Not on upcoming Monday night but on Friday noon. Reason for the drama unfolding before our eyes, were the claims that two of his relatives had bank accounts at the HSBC, Geneva branch. Nothing bad about it. Only that the names of his two cousins and of one of their husbands were not on the infamous Lagarde-List – the one the French authorities handed out to the Greeks in 2010. Or at least, they were not on the Lagarde-list that was going from office desk to office drawer for two years. Neither on the Lagarde-list that was published last October. But they were on the Lagarde-list handed out to economic prosecutors who travelled to Paris on December 21st to receive the original list.
What had happened? How did these three names had disappeared from the list? A mystery that puzzled the economic prosecutors who compared the two lists and crossed checked account holders, amounts and obviously also family relations.
Had someone put a finger with a tiny eraser on the tip and ‘modified’ the first Lagarde-list?A mystery that needs to be solved.
According to Greek daily Ta Nea that made public the Papaconstantinou-HSBC-family relations on its website on Friday, the two cousins of Papaconstantinou are the daughters of his politician uncle, Michalis Papaconstantinou, a former Nea Dimocratia politician who had also served as Foreign Minister under Mitsotakis government.
The account of at least one of the holders was containing 1,220,000 USD and thus at least until 2007, when bank employee Herve Falciani stole the data of account holders at HSBC branch in Geneva.
“These individuals, who had been dropped from the [original] list, allegedly held two accounts one of which included $US 1.222.000 while the movement of sums on the other [account] do not appear as it was a closed [account]. This is what emerged from the comparison of the two lists as a result of the investigation by the economic prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mousakitis” (Ta Nea)
The news spread like a wild fire and the suspicion the former FinMin had allegedly removed the names of his relatives from the list turned to a tsunami.
Government and opposition parties demanded immediate clarifications on the issue and George Papaconstantinou was forced to make a statement.
He vehemently dismissed all claims and denied any involvement in making even ‘tiny modifications’ on the list.
“I never had any account or any connection to any account at the HSBC bank. I never made any intervention when I received the list,” Papaconstantinou wrote in his statement among others.
Too bad only that he was the one who received the Lagarde-List in 2010, kept it secret for two years and declared in front of the economic committee of the Parliament in November, that he did not remember where he had put the list. Which was in form of a CD, by the way.
These must have also been the reasons that Evangelos Venizelos expelled George Papaconstantinou from PASOK on Friday afternoon in a fast track procedure.
Papaconstantinou is to face parliamentary inquiry.
George Papaconstantinou served as Finance Minister from October 2009 until June 2011 under Papandreou government. He was not member of the parliament after the elections in June 2012.
The Lagarde-list burned already one. Next, please