Parliament Votes to Indict Ex-Official in Greece

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ATHENS -- Greek lawmakers voted early Tuesday in favor of indicting former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou over the way he handled a list of more than 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, a possible source of much-needed tax revenue that was never exploited by the authorities.

In a secret ballot that followed a contentious debate, a majority of lawmakers in Greece's 300-seat Parliament said that Mr. Papaconstantinou should stand trial on three charges: breach of trust, tampering with an official document and breach of duty.

The votes lifted Mr. Papaconstantinou's immunity from prosecution for the time he was a cabinet minister. A council of judges will now decide whether he should face the criminal charges outlined in Parliament.

In an impassioned speech before the vote, Mr. Papaconstantinou claimed that he was being made a scapegoat for "the sins of a series of governments," accusing the parliamentary committee that recommended the indictment vote of a "blatant attempt at fabricating guilt." He contended that Greece's financial crimes unit had the opportunity and motive to tamper with the list "with or without political intervention."

Hours before the vote, a financial prosecutor said two former heads of the financial crimes unit should be charged with breach of trust for failing to investigate the list.

Mr. Papaconstantinou has repeatedly denied accusations that he removed the names of three relatives from the list of Greek account holders, known as the Lagarde list, after Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who handed over the list of names in 2010 when she was France's finance minister in a bid to aid Greece's efforts to fight tax evasion.

International lenders have bailed out Greece with loans of more than $300 billion since 2010 in exchange for a succession of austerity measures that have reduced living standards and angered Greeks.

Last month Greece's financial crimes unit said it had traced more than $7.8 million in undeclared assets in the bank accounts of four of Mr. Papaconstantinou's relatives, including the three removed from the list.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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