MPs to probe 'fiddled' statistics claims

Lawmakers will have to investigate claims that Greece’s 2009 public deficit was artificially inflated and whether former Prime Minister George Papandreou and ex-Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou were culpable in any way, after the Supreme Court decided to send the file to Parliament.

Deputy Supreme Court prosecutor Nikos Pantelis forwarded the case to Parliament on Tuesday, in keeping with the law that requires any allegations of wrongdoing by ministers to be investigated by Parliament.

Financial prosecutor Grigoris Peponis delivered the results of his initial probe into the alleged wrongdoing to the Supreme Court on January 20.

The probe was launched following allegations made last September by Zoe Georganta, a former employee of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). Shortly after she was dismissed from the service, Georganta claimed that 2009 deficit data had been artificially inflated from around 12-13 percent to 15.4 percent of gross domestic product. The statistician claimed that European officials wanted Greece to show a greater deficit than Ireland in order to trigger a bailout and tough fiscal measures.

Georganta’s allegations were later supported by Nikos Logothetis, the former vice president of ELSTAT.

Andreas Georgiou, who was appointed head of the overhauled and more independent ELSTAT in 2010, insists that the statistic were in line with EU standards.

Peponis invited Georgiou to give evidence but did not end up taking a deposition from him. In his report, Peponis justified forwarding the case file to the Supreme Court before hearing from Georgiou by saying that he had collected several statements from witnesses who claimed that the deficit figure had been inflated.

Georgiou wrote to the Supreme Court to complain that he had not been given a chance to answer the allegations against him. He 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.

Εγγραφείτε στο newsletter μας

Ενημερωθείτε πρώτοι για τα τελευταία νέα, αποκλειστικά ρεπορταζ και ειδήσεις απο όλο τον κόσμο