Monday, September 5, 2016

‘Game Over’ by George Papaconstantinou

by Peter Spiegel

Financial Times

September 5, 2016

George Papaconstantinou had already resigned as Greece’s finance minister and was holidaying with his Dutch wife’s family near Amsterdam when he received the news: the so-called Lagarde list of wealthy Greeks with secret Swiss bank accounts had allegedly been interfered with. Three names had been deleted. They were all Papaconstantinou’s relatives. The implications were clear.

“Certain moments in life are kept in the memory for ever, in every vivid detail,” he writes of accusations he tampered with the list while in office. “I still remember the shock and disbelief, the dizziness, the anger.”

For the next two years, the UK and US-educated economist would be at the centre of the highest-profile Greek political show trial in a generation. Ultimately, a special court would acquit him of all but a misdemeanour charge after investigators found the tampered USB stick was not the one he handed to Greek financial investigators. But the trial, concluded last year, is sadly relevant once again.

Game Over, Papaconstantinou’s memoirs of the six-year debt crisis, became a bestseller when published in Greece this year. The arrival of the English-language edition could not be better timed: Athens is again gripped by the impending trial of a political figure blamed for dragging the country into its pernicious eurozone bailout. Now in the dock is Andreas Georgiou, a former International Monetary Fund economist hired by Papaconstantinou in 2010 to set up a statistics agency as part of an effort to bring discipline to the government books.


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