Prosecutor orders preliminary probe into charges of artificial inflation of 2009 deficit

Accusations by former Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT) board member Zoi Georganta, who alleges that Greece’s state deficit for 2009 was intentionally inflated, on Monday prompted the intervention of Financial Prosecutor Grigoris Peponis.
The entire EL.STAT board, sans its chairman but including Georganta, was ordered to resign by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in a surprise decision on Thursday.
First Instant Court Prosecutor Popi Papandreou was assigned to conduct a preliminary investigation into the case to establish whether the accusations made are standing and determine if crimes against the Greek economy were committed.
Georganta, a professor of econometrics, told local media that that EL.STAT intentionally, and after being pressured by Eurostat, inflated the 2009 revised deficit from roughly 12-13 pct to 15.4 pct using non-scientific methods in order to justify the adoption of more and tougher fiscal measures in Greece.     
According to Georganta, the upward revision was made possible by including expenditures from public utilities in the general government spending. Some of those public utilities companies are now included in the personnel redundancy programme applied via the labour reserve measure, Georganta alleged. This method is in conflict with the Eurostat practices considering that studies and statistical calculations that are deemed as imperative and should have taken place in advance were never held in the controversial wider public sector companies, Georganta said.
Former EL.STAT vice-president Nikos Logothetis had made similar accusations as regards the 2009 deficit via a memo he had forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.
Logothetis is facing felony charges for violation of personal data protection after EL.STAT President Andreas Georgiou accused him of hacking into his email account.

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