Statistics chief questions probe into 2009 deficit data

The head of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), Andreas Georgiou, wrote to the Supreme Court on Monday to demand that he be allowed to give evidence as part of the investigation into allegations that Greece’s 2009 public deficit figure was inflated on purpose.
Georgiou suggested in his letter that the probe had been laid open to “political exploitation” and that it was putting the reliability of Greek statistics in question.

Financial prosecutor Grigoris Peponis submitted to the Supreme Court last week the results of his probe into claims by two former ELSTAT officials that the 2009 deficit figure, which was rubber-stamped by the European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat, was inflated at the behest of European officials to justify Greece’s bailout.

Peponis suggested that the case should be passed to Parliament so MPs could decide if former Prime Minister George Papandreou should face prosecution.

However, despite calling Georgiou as a witness, Peponis did not question him. Georgiou said he also submitted 74 500-page files to Peponis which explained how the deficit was calculated.

The statistics chief said the prosecutor would have dropped the case if he studied this information. “This would have put an end to an issue which, as long as it remains in the spotlight, damages the public’s faith in the data that displays the state of the country’s economy,” said Georgiou.

Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou echoed this view. “These figures have been approved by Eurostat and based on this data, Greece is taking part in its most crucial and difficult negotiations,” she said. “If these figures are put into doubt, it blows this whole discussion into the air.”


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