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Inside Story
What is the state of corruption in Greece?
As a Greek journalist stands trial for violating data privacy laws, we ask how it may affect the country's next bailout.
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2012 10:33

A Greek journalist went on trial in Athens this week for violating the country's data privacy laws.

Kostas Vaxevanis, the editor of Hot Doc, published a list of more than 2,000 wealthy Greeks, with deposits totalling more than $1.29bn (€1bn) in Swiss banks.

"There are two main words which better explain the Greek crisis and these words are tax evasion and corruption .... There is a sentiment in society right now that people do not trust Greek authorities, do not trust politicians, do not trust the administration."

- George Tzogopoulos, The Hellenic Foundation

The so called “Lagarde list” was passed to Greece in 2010 by French authorities.

But the Greek government has since taken no action, saying there is no proof that those on the list have broken the law.

Vaxevanis' trial on Thursday came two days after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras urged politicians to unite behind new austerity measures; to secure the next $40bn tranche of bailout money for the country, or risk an exit from the euro.

In an interview Vaxevanis claimed he has evidence that more politicians are involved in the scandal.

"Instead of arresting the tax evaders and the ministers who had the list in their hands, they are trying to arrest the truth and freedom of the press," he said.

"We have information to use in future issues. There are names on the list that lead to offshore companies and connect with other personalities, people that are related to MPs and ministers."

"What is happening right now in the Athens Court of First Incidence gives the picture of Greece as a circus .... We have a journalist who disclosed the truth ... who is being accused today and who will in a very lengthy procedure wait to see if freedom of the press is a crime in Greece today."

- Harris Ikonomopoulos, lawyer of Kostas Vaxevanis

International lenders have long insisted that Greece investigate those suspected of tax evasion before the country can be eligible for further bailouts.

Greece is already in its fifth year of recession. The economy shrunk by almost 12 per cent between 2009 and 2011.

Yannis Stournaras, the finance minister, submitted a new national budget to parliament on Wednesday which revealed that the economy is expected to shrink by 4.5 per cent in 2013.

The government is planning $17.5bn in cuts for 2013-14 which will affect mainly salary, pensions and benefits.

The latest austerity package was a pre-condition for a $170bn bailout.

So what is the state of corruption at the heart of Greece’s elites, and ultimately in the rest in Europe?

To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Jane Dutton,  is joined by guests: George Tzogopoulos, a research fellow, and website editor at the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy; Nickolas Shaxson, a writer and investigator, and the author of a book called Treasure Islands:Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World; and Harris Ikonomopoulos, the lawyer representing Kostas Vaxevanis.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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