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Greek parliament opens probe into "lost" list of Swiss account holders

10-03-2012 23:04 BJT

ATHENS, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Greek parliament opened on Wednesday a probe into a "lost" list containing names of some 2,000 Greeks with major deposits in an HSBC branch in Switzerland, local media reported.

Current and former top officials at the Greek Financial and Economic Crime Unit (SDOE) were called to testify before a parliamentary committee on the "problematic function" of the agency in handling the list and in investigating into the financial transactions of political figures, according to national news agency AMNA.

Furor has been triggered in Athens over the past few days regarding the progress of probes by authorities into suspected corruption and tax evasion, as Greecestruggles to counter a debt crisisattributed to some extent to such chronic plagues.

SDOE's chief prosecutor received on Tuesday a copy of the list, of which Christine Lagarde, current head of the International Monetary Fund and former finance minister of France, is said to have handed over two years ago to her Greek counterpart at the time George Papaconstantinou, containing data on accounts of Greek nationals at HSBC's branch in Geneva.

The Greek list was part of data obtained illegally by a former bank employee. Despite legal obstacles, authorities in some European countries investigated into alleged money laundering and tax evasion by their mentioned nationals and raised revenues.

However, the list handed to the Greek government had been somehow misplaced and "lost." Papaconstantinou, who left his post in June 2011, put the blame on SDOE.

Evangelos Venizelos, his successor to the finance ministry and current leader of the socialist PASOK party, sent a copy of the list he had kept on a memory stick to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' office on Tuesday. It was promptly forwarded again to SDOE.

The case has drawn sharp criticism from deputies of several parties and local media, who talk about "suspicious incompetence" of several officials involved.

The incident with the so-called "Lagarde list" came after Greek media reported last week on another list containing the names of more than 30 former ministers and current and former MPs allegedly under probe by SDOE for their financial transactions.

Speaker of Parliament Evangelos Meimarakis, who was named by Greek dailies as one of the politicians investigated, announced last Thursday he would step aside temporarily until judicial authorities clear his name.

Yannis Ragoussis, a heavyweight PASOK figure who has served in several key ministerial posts in recent years, announced on Wednesday his intention to leave the party.

According to a press statement released by his office, he made the decision "in protest of the lack of determination by PASOK and the government to tackle tax evasion at a time when additional salary cuts and tax hikes are placed on the shoulders of poor Greeks to tackle the debt crisis."

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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