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Greek official caught in financial scandal

Pasok party ejects former finance minister for allegedly removing relatives' names from list probed for tax evasion.
Last Modified: 29 Dec 2012 07:09
Papaconstantinou denied knowing which relatives had appeared on the bank list investigated for tax evasion [AFP]

Politicians in Greece are calling for the country's former finance minister to be investigated for allegedly removing the names of three of his relatives from a list of suspected tax evaders. 

George Papaconstantinou, the minister who helped design the country's first austerity measures, was quickly kicked out of his socialist Pasok party after his family members were found missing from a list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts that authorities were using to investigate possible tax evasion.

In a statement announcing his ejection on Saturday, Pasok said there were "clear indications" that names of family members had been deleted from the list. 

"Obviously, Mr Papaconstantinou no longer belongs to PASOK,'' it said, adding that "there is an obvious and huge issue of responsibility of Mr George Papaconstantinou".

A court official said two of Papaconstantinou's cousins and their husbands, of whom three had been on the list, were involved in two accounts in a Swiss HSBC bank branch.

Denial of allegations

One of the accounts was closed, while the other contains $1.2m, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to give details of the case publicly.

Papaconstantinou "categorically" denied altering the list, which had been given to him in 2010 personally by France's finance minister at the time, Christine Lagarde, the current head of the International Monetary Fund.

Papaconstantinou also denied knowing which family members had appeared on the list. 

Greek prosecutors provoked an outcry by pursuing a journalist who had printed names supposedly on the list, which was originally leaked by an employee of HSBC before being passed to Greece by Lagarde. 

Authorities have claimed the list was illegally obtained and thus could not be used in the battle against tax evasion, a chronic problem in the heavily debted and recession-hit country.

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Source:
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