234 lawmakers voted in favor of widen charges against former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou. He is to face charges like breach of trust, that are a felony. Papaconstantinou is accused of failing to record the receipt of a CD containing the name sof 2,200 potential tax evaders with bank accounts in HSBC bank, Geneva branch. The infamous Lagarde List. The CD was given to Papaconstantiou in 2010 but he kept it secret and allegedly removed the names of three of his relatives from the list.
With tears in his eyes, the former finance minister declared in front of the Parliament that he was innocent, that he was turn into a scapegoat. He claimed that he did not officially record the receipt as the content of the CD was obtained illegally. He also indirectly accused his successor Evangelos Venizelos for not tracing the names on the Lagarde list but kept it in his office drawer for two years.
“The ex-minister also called on MPs to explain why, if he allegedly blocked the investigation, there were no results once he was replaced by Venizelos, who he accused of scapegoating. “Some people believe that the only way to save themselves is destroying their predecessors,” said Papaconstantinou.” (ekathimerini)
Voting results of 266 present lawmakers: 234 voted YES, 21 NO, 7 Present, 3 empty and 1 invalid.
However it is not clear yet whether a special court will be set up to judge Papaconstantinou or the case will be archived.
With a law protecting current and formers ministers the procedure is long and complicated when it comes to do justice.
After ex defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, George Papaconstantinou will be the second former PASOK minister to be tried. Even thought the charges are different and Tsochatzopoulos is suspect of receiving direct bribes.
PS For some unexplained (?) reason, citizens are not particularly impressed by Papaconstantinou or Tsochatzopoulos cases. They seem to believe that these two cases are smoke in the eyes of the austerity-hit Greeks and that many more politicians should be taken before the judges.
Papaconstantinou’s case bears also a symbolism as he was the finance minister who signed the first loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
2.5 years after the Lagarde List arrived in Greece, citizens wonder if any name at all has been thoroughly investigated on tax evasion and what was the real gain for the state.