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Greek Statistics Criminal Probe – ELSTAT Chief to Testify

We in Greece are used to read and write about cases dragged from week to week, from month to month and from year to year. Such a case is the allegedly falsified budget deficit of 2009, that was apparently revised upwards in order to force Greece to take harsh austerity measures. Last September ELSTAT board members were sacked alledgely because they could not cooperate with the head of the Greek statistics Authority, Andreas Georgiou.  One of the members Zoi Georganta, professor for Econometrics at the University of Macedonia, went to the Greek press and claimed  that “Greece’s budget deficit underwent an upward revision in 2009 to 15.4% instead of 12.6% just to force Greece to take the harsh austerity measures.” (Read KTG-Article Here)

Today in Athens the prosecutor opened the file for a criminal investigation and asked Georgiou to testify next month as a suspect in the probe.

Greece’s statistics chief will testify next month in a criminal investigation into allegations that his office falsified the budget deficit to make the country’s financial crisis look worse, court officials said on Monday.

The head of the newly independent statistics service ELSTAT, Andreas Georgiou, denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offence in the investigation, stemming from allegations made by a former ELSTAT board member.

Georgiou and court sources said he had been asked to provide evidence on Dec. 12 as a suspect in the probe that could prompt charges of “breach of faith” if the state is proved to have suffered damages by his actions.

“It is an unprecedented case of statisticians being investigated for producing figures under EU regulations,” he told Reuters. “Any attempt to manage statistics in the national interest is a recipe for disaster.”

The revision of Greece’s 2009 budget deficit to 15.4 from 13.6 percent of gross domestic product in November 2010 showed the country’s fiscal woes were even worse than previously thought and sped up the debt crisis which is still rocking the euro zone. (Read the Full Reuters Story here)

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  1. Total coincidence of course that this comes out today (day before the meeting meeting tomorrow in Brussels). Total coincidence that Mrs. Georganta did not give a squeak until after she was sacked. Total coincidence that this case is investigated by the public prosecutor: what was the result of the deep and thorough investigation into the statistical mess in the 10 years leading up to the creation of the independent ELSTAT.