Greek Former Finance Minister of George Papandreou’s Giorgos Papakonstantinou, was found guilty by the Athens Court for tampering with the Lagarde list but his case sparked the outrage among crisis-hit Greeks all over again. He was cleared of felony charges.
The former high-profile political figure, who even faced 10 years to life imprisonment over the felony charges, was finally found guilty of doctoring a document ( what a document!) , but reduced the count to a misdemeanor. The Greek Court, whose synthesis was set up solely for the case, found him guilty of removing the names of three relatives from the “Lagarde list,” but the court said there was not enough evidence to prove that his actions damaged the Greek state
Greece ‘s former Finance Minister had declared himself “innocent” in his apology before the Special Court, and expressed his displeasure for his party’s (PASOK) stance over the case, saying that he has been isolated and “thrown to the dogs.”
The decision for the guilt of Former Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou was announced on Tuesday March 24, while the Athens special court prosecutor had recommended a guilty verdict on two felony counts related to his handling of the so-called “Lagarde list”. The two felony charges were falsification of a public document and breach of faith.
The former Minister’s parliamentary immunity was lifted so he could stand trial on accusations that he removed the names of three relatives from a list of Greeks with deposits at the Geneva branch of HSBC, the top scandalous Lagarde List for Greece, where also, appart from the three Papakonstantinou Relatives, 86 other names have been found to be missing from the original list, by the years of the previous gevernments, without still, letting tannounced the names of these 86.
The List that ad been officialy handled as the formal document contains some 2,000 names in total, but as recently has been revealed French FinMin and current IMF chief Christine Lagarde turned over a CD with the list of 2,062 Greek depositors to Papaconstantinou’s office. Papakonstantinou is charged for removing the three names of his relatives, by this trial that has lasted so far almost a month.
In his hearing during the last weeks,Giorgos Papakonstantinou railed against current PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, both for his handling of the case and the fact that he did not defend him while, as he described, in other corruption cases he would do so in Parliament. Papakonstantinou stressed that he made no distortion and no interference on the list, characterizing the whole case as a setup.
“I am being judged every day,” the former Minister said, explaining that populist attacks against him are an everyday phenomenon. “They are saying that the Minister who signed the Memorandum and cut salaries and pensions got hold of the list and did not collect money [from those in it],” he described. Regarding the investigation completed prior to the trial, Papakonstantinou said on court that his relatives and close associates, who have been cleared of all charges, were brutally reviled.
During the process, it was revealed that over the last three years, the Greek Financial Crime Unit (SDOE) had only audited 30 out of the 2062 people who were under investigation due to the List.
Following a SDOE investigation, it was revealed that Papakonstantinou’s relatives had failed to pay taxes on assets amounting to 6 million euros, which correspond to 1.93 million euros. However, the tax office had not yet issued any fines against them.
“We are planning on disclosing our findings to the people involved over the next few days,” said Dimitris Massinas, director of Taxation Audit Center for Great Wealth, who checked all the assets, adding that the tax accounting for the family’s income over the last 15 years reaches 8 million euros.
In regards to the audit process, he commented that it was a “lengthy process” since they were looking at data from a 15-year period. “We don’t have many qualified employees,” the Taxation Director said .
Furthermore, the judges were also interested in finding out how the Lagarde List CD went missing.
Papakonstantinou’s former office secretariat director Chrysi Hatzi testified that the former Finance Minister received a “confidential letter” containing the Lagarde List from the Greek embassy in Paris. He then proceeded to inform the SDOE head at the time, Yiannis Kapeleris, to carry out an investigation, as she said.