Sunday, November 27, 2011

Criminal inquiry adds up to more problems

Financial Times
November 27, 2011

Greece’s understaffed new statistical agency has been struggling for months to produce high-quality figures needed by European Union and International Monetary Fund experts preparing the country’s next round of fiscal and structural reform.

A criminal investigation focused on its director, Andreas Georgiou, will only compound the problems.

Mr Georgiou, a former International Monetary Fund official, has already appeared informally before a junior financial prosecutor investigating accusations by a fellow statistician that he “betrayed the country’s interests” by inflating the 2009 budget deficit figures.

Mr Georgiou is due to attend a formal hearing next month conducted by Grigoris Peponis, the senior prosecutor for financial crime, who was appointed this year after the EU and IMF pressured the government to crack down harder on tax evasion and other economic crimes.

A second case, filed by the Athens lawyers’ union, also demands a criminal investigation on the grounds that the “inflation” of the deficit “damaged Greece’s national sovereignty and violated the constitution”.


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