UK & World News

  • 18 January 2013, 7:16

Greece Probes Papaconstantinou Over 'Tax List'

Greek politicians have voted to investigate a former finance minister over allegations he amended a list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts to remove three of his relatives.

In a marathon 16-hour parliament session the politicians voted in favour of the investigation into George Papaconstantinou's conduct by 265 votes to six.

With the three-party coalition government backing the motion, it had been all but assured to pass.

Two proposals by opposition parties for broader investigations failed.

One had been to launch investigationss into the handling of data by another former finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, and the other to expand the investigation into two former prime ministers.

French authorities gave the list of names to Athens in 2010 as Greece's economy was imploding.

But Greek authorities failed to investigate the data for potential tax evasion, sparking outrage at a time of severe salary and pension cuts and spiralling unemployment.

Mr Papaconstantinou has insisted he did not amend the list and claimed he was the target of a vicious smear campaign.

He said: "I did not tamper with the data. It is inconceivable that I would have acted in such a way that would so blatantly involve me."

The three relatives who were found missing from the list have since given evidence to authorities that the funds in the Swiss accounts were legal and taxed, he noted.

The list of about 2,000 Greeks with bank accounts in Switzerland is part of data on 24,000 HSBC customers allegedly stolen from the bank by an employee.

After about two years of inaction, the list emerged into the public eye again late last year when it was leaked to a magazine publisher, who printed the names.

Parliament's investigative committee is to meet next week and will officially be given 30 days to come up with their findings.

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