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Turmoil in PASOK over "Lagarde List"

03 October 2012 / 19:10:24  GRReporter
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Former Minister of Interior and Transport in the two Socialist governments Yiannis Rangousis has announced today that he is leaving PASOK. He was one of the closest associates of former Prime Minister George Papandreou. The reason for his withdrawal from the party with whose ballot he was elected twice as Mayor of Paros and then in parliament was his dissatisfaction with the actions of party leader Evangelos Venizelos.

It is a question of the so-called "Lagarde List," which contains the names of 1,991 Greeks with large deposits in Swiss banks. According to sources, they exported hundreds of millions that were not taxed in Greece.

The list is named after the head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, because she had submitted it to former Minister of Finance of Greece George Papakonstantinou in December 2010, when she was still the head of the same ministry in France.

"Where is the list?" and "They lost the list" were the two major headlines in recent days. The Ministry of Finance and Minister Yiannis Stournaras personally promised to find it, but to no avail. This lasted until yesterday when Evangelos Venizelos stated that the disc containing the list had reached him during his term in the Ministry of Finance. But he and the director of the Financial and Economic Crime Unit at that time decided that the document could not be used in court because the data had not been acquired legally.

The revelation provoked a huge response in parliament and government. The leader of Independent Greeks Panos Kamenos accused PASOK’s leader that he had taken the list to his home instead of giving it to the controlling authorities. He wondered how the former head of the Financial and Economic Crime Unit could conceal the data following the orders of Evangelos Venizelos.

SYRIZA said that concealing the list was a political issue of great importance. The main opposition party accused the Greek government representatives stating that "they concealed such a case as easily as they cut the salaries and pensions." According to them, Germany, Italy and France have managed to gain significant amounts of money through court settlements based on similar data.

Former ministers of finance in the governments of PASOK Evangelos Venizelos and George Papakonstantinou

According to sources quoted by Ethnos newspaper, the list is already in the hands of the prosecutor. It contained the bank accounts of shipping companies, the names of Jewish businessmen, people from different liberal professions and of a former participant in the political life, who is already under investigation. The same sources claim that the bank accounts date back to 1997 and two thirds of them are empty. The highest amount is 500 million euro and it belongs to an employee at a shipping company.

The fuss about the list caused the intervention of Evangelos Venizelos's predecessor in the Ministry of Finance, George Papakonstantinou. He has acknowledged that the list was problematic from a legal point of view and therefore, he convened a series of meetings with the legal department of the institution. At the same time, however, he assigned the director of the Financial and Economic Crime Unit at that time Ioannis Kapeleris to conduct a preliminary check of the data. This made it clear that there was tax evasion in some cases and therefore, he ordered Kapeleris to trigger checks against the suspects. When former prosecutor Ioannis Diotis headed the Unit, former Finance Minister Papakonstantinou gave him the list hand-to-hand through his guards. The repair of the government followed shortly afterwards and Evangelos Venizelos took over the Ministry of Finance.

However, Yiannis Kapeleris himself refutes George Papakonstantinou and says he did not receive any list. "He gave me a list of 10 names and told me to investigate them," he said to the Parliamentary Commission on Institutions and Transparency.

According to commentators, Yiannis Rangousis’ withdrawal from PASOK is only the beginning of a series of political developments that will follow the affair with the list. "My conscience has ordered me to withdraw from the party of PASOK in the form in which it is today. The views and practices of the political world in the last 35 years have prevailed in it. They have taken Greece to bankruptcy and moral decay and the Greek society - to resentment and anger. "

Yiannis Rangousis states that all proven developments relating to the "Lagarde List" are politically immoral.  "It affects the determination to tackle tax evasion with the same strictness that was applied in reducing incomes and imposing new taxes."
 
Social network users were rushing to see who was going to write a witty and funny comment on the list. "Maybe it's just that the disc could not work", "Lagarde List against Schindler's List" and "After the disc of Lagarde we are awaiting the DVD of Strauss Kahn" are just some of them.

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