3 names missing from list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts
Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou speaks during a news conference in Athens, July 5, 2010. (AP / Thanassis Stavrakis)
Published Friday, December 28, 2012 1:00PM EST
ATHENS, Greece -- Three relatives of a Greek former Cabinet minister are missing from a list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts that authorities are using to investigate possible tax evasion, court officials said Friday.
The ex-minister was not formally identified, but Greek media widely reported it to be former finance minister George Papaconstantinou, who had originally obtained the list from France in 2010. According to the leaks, two of his cousins and their husbands were involved in the accounts, of whom three had been on the list.
Papaconstantinou issued a statement saying he was "not going to accept the fabrication of guilt where none exists, nor become the scapegoat in this case."
Greece originally obtained the list from French authorities in 2010, based on data concerning 24,000 HSBC customers in Switzerland that the bank reported stolen, but only started investigating recently. With Greece in a deep financial crisis, the Socialist government at the time has come under criticism for not quickly using the list, which contained the names of about 2,000 Greeks, to check for possible tax evasion.
Prosecutors this month asked for the original again from France, fearing their copy might have been doctored. Athens obtained the list again last week.
A court official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to announce the details to the media publicly, said three names linked to two accounts were on the new list but not the previous version. A fourth person, also a relative of the ex-minister, was also found to be linked to one of the accounts.
One of the accounts was closed, while the other contained $1.2 million, the official said.
Papaconstantinou, who served as finance minister from October 2009 to June 2011, denounced the "appalling process of leaks and descriptions of names" that implied his relatives were on the list and that insinuated the original list had been tampered with.
"I have made absolutely no intervention into the data which I asked for and received from the French authorities -- I delivered to officials all the data that was delivered to me," he said, adding that if there were people related to him on the list, "it is something that I didn't know about until today."
Court officials have sent the new list to Parliament so the legislature can look into whether there has been any wrongdoing by active politicians.