Greece: finance prosecutor targets Venizelos on Lagarde list

PASOK leader fighting on two fronts, with unrest from the ranks

02 November, 19:40

(ANSAmed) - ATHENS, NOVEMBER 2 - Finance prosecutor Grigoris Peponis intends to ask parliament to investigate two former Greek finance ministers for criminal negligence for failing to prosecute possible tax evaders on the so-called Lagarde list of Greek bank accounts stashed away in Switzerland.

Peponis will move against current PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and former 2010 finance minister Giorgos Papacostantinou, also from PASOK, after Wednesday's parliament vote on troika-mandated austerity measures. The prosecutor's announcement came just as the so-called Greek Assange, i.e. Hot Doc magazine editor Costas Vaxevanis, was being acquitted on Thursday of charges stemming from his publication of the list of 2,059 Swiss bank account holders.

In his article, Vaxevanis accused the two ministers and two finance guard chiefs of failing to investigate possible tax evaders on the list, which current IMF chief and former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde provided to Papacostantinou on a CD in 2010.

The CD contains the names of Greek citizens stashing undeclared income totaling an estimated 1.5-2 billion euros at HSBC bank in Switzerland since 2003. Papacostantinou mysteriously lost the disk, which resurfaced a month ago in the hands of Venizelos. Athens authorities recently admitted the original had been lost, and that they had asked Paris for another copy.

In what pundits say is an attempt to divert public opinion from the Lagarde list, the Vaxevanis acquittal and the Peponis announcement, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras last night told a congressional transparency committee that the Finance Guard is drawing up a list of 54,000 names of Greeks who moved more than 100,000 euros offshore after the economic crisis began, in 2010.

''This list will be much more crucial and probably more useful than the Lagarde one,'' the minister said. ''We will call in 15,000 people for questioning on the provenance of funds they moved offshore.'' Taking the bull by the horns, the 18 MPs from Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn on Friday filed a complaint against Papacostantinou and Venizelos for dereliction of duty.

But Venizelos is on the hot seat for more reasons than a possible indictment: two of his party's 33 MPs defected on Thursday, while others are threatening to vote against the new austerity measures, without which the troika (EU-ECB-IMF) might hold out on the 31.5-billion-euro bailout Greece is gasping for.

(ANSAmed).

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