Greek elite tax evaders hid €1.5b
Greece’s Financial prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis confirmed last night that they believe some 1.5bn euros were hidden in an HSBC branch in Geneva by 1,991 public and political figures on the so-called Lagarde List. A separate charge sheet will be drawn up against every individual suspected of tax evasion ‘and other financial crimes’.
The prosecutors, who are conducting a preliminary investigation into the list, are expected to summon as witnesses political figures who handled the data, including former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Papaconstantinou. But opinion leaders in Athens scoffed at the idea of Venizelos having left the list unaltered during the two years it was in his possession.The previous day (Friday) Financial prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis ordered SDOE)to conduct a full investigation into the list, which had been finally and formally
submitted to the financial prosecutors by SDOE chief Stelios Stasinopoulos two days earlier.
Says a long-term Athens source:
“The Lagarde list contains many big names from political and media circles. Soon the mainstream newspapers will also run a major story about a related scandal in which 3 members of New democracy are involved: the current President of the Parliament, an ex Minister, and another member of the governing party. In this case the three accused politicians helped a prominent entrepreneur to get €300m from the banks and then launder the money through his twelve offshore companies”.
But speculation remains rife in several European capitals as to why IMF boss Christine Lagarde leaked the list to Venizelos when she was still Minister of Economics in the Sarkozy government. One German source suggests that she did so knowing the list would embarrass Berlin – given some of the payments made to List-members involved the corrupt sale of submarines by Germany to Greece some years previously.
Equally open to conjecture is why Venizelos chose now to hand over the list, given that some prominent PASOK members are on it.
Stay tuned: the ripples from this could make some serious waves throughout the eurozone.