Europe

Greek ex-minister Papaconstantinou faces nepotism probe

  • 31 December 2012
  • From the section Europe
George Papaconstantinou
Image caption Mr Papaconstantinou denies wrongdoing

Greece's coalition government has backed the investigation and potential trial of former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.

MPs from all three coalition parties - including Mr Papaconstantinou's Pasok - signed a proposal calling for his investigation for allegedly tampering with a public document.

He is accused of deleting his relatives from a list of possible tax evaders.

He denies doing so, saying the case against him was fabricated.

The proposal has been signed by 71 MPs from the three-party coalition, the AP news agency reports.

It was due to be submitted to parliament on Monday.

It calls for Mr Papaconstantinou to be investigated for tampering with a public document and breach of duty. Based on the outcome of the investigation, he could be tried by a special court.

The offences would carry a jail term of up to 10 years, according to legal experts cited by AP.

'Lost' list

The names of two of Mr Papaconstantinou's cousins and their husbands were reportedly on the original list, of Greeks who held Swiss bank accounts.

The list is being used to investigate possible tax evasion by Greece's elite, and who may not have paid tax on all their income.

It was taken from HSBC bank and handed to the then French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde.

The list was passed to the Greek finance ministry by Ms Lagarde in 2010, when Mr Papaconstantinou was minister. But the Pasok government took no action and later claimed to have lost it.

It has since re-emerged, but the later version did not include Mr Papaconstantinou's relatives, reports say.

The Greek socialist party, Pasok, expelled Mr Papaconstantinou last week, saying he had "handled the list in the worst possible way", and there were "clear indications that the list was tampered with".

Mr Papaconstantinou, who introduced Greece's first austerity programme as the country tried to rein back its escalating debt, denies any wrongdoing.

He said in a statement: "I have made absolutely no intervention into the data which I asked for and received from the French authorities," adding that he was "not going to accept the fabrication of guilt where none exists, nor become the scapegoat in this case".

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