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Papaconstantinou Says He Knows Bank List Tamperer

Lagarde_List11Former Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou, who faces possible prosecution as investigators try to determine who removed the names of three of his relatives from a list of 2,062 Greeks with $1.95 billion in deposits in a Swiss bank that investigators believe contains many tax evaders says he knows who tampered with it. But he won’t tell yet.
Papaconstantinou has claimed someone else removed the names in an attempt to frame him. To Vima newspaper quoted him as telling aides, “I know who doctored the list,” adding that he would not divulge the identity until a current investigation has yielded results.
The newspaper said he is pointing a finger at his successor as finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, who is now the head of the PASOK Socialists, and a former head of the SDOE financial crimes squad Yiannis Diotis for failing to act on the list, although he did not accuse them of tampering with the material.
Venizelos ejected Papaconstantinou from PASOK after the revelation about the missing names but a Parliamentary committee in December, 2012 voted not to investigate either of them and Venizelos so far has avoided being questioned by prosecutors.
Critics said the coalition government of Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras, in which PASOK, along with the Democratic Left is a member, is trying to protect the Socialist leader so that the uneasy administration won’t fall.
The three relatives whose names were excised from the list are also set to be questioned by investigators, according to the newspaper Kathimerini. The newspaper reported that Papaconstantinou’s first cousin Eleni Papaconstantinou-Sikiaridis, her husband Symeon Sikiaridis and Andreas Rossonis, the spouse of another of the former minister’s cousins, Marina Papaconstantinou, will be questioned.
They were summoned as suspects and have not been charged in any wrongdoing so far. Papaconstantinou-Sikiaridis earlier released a statement that the money in the Geneva branch of HSBC was legally acquired wealth although she did not say if she had paid taxes on it.
The three were given more time to prepare their explanations and are expected to appear before prosecutors again next week. Sources told Kathimerini that they could face charges ranging from complicity in the doctoring of a document to tax evasion and money laundering, although a Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) probe into the legality of the money in their accounts is not yet complete.
Papaconstantinou also faces possible prosecution as investigators try to determine who removed the names from the so-called Lagarde List, named for former French finance minister Christine Lagarde, now head of the International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s international lenders. She gave a CD with the names, culled from a larger list of people across Europe with deposits in the bank from a former HSBC employee officials said stole it.
Papaconstantinou said it mysteriously vanished, although a copy turned up late last year from Venizelos. The major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is expected to submit to Parliament a demand that Venizelos as well a former Premier and previous PASOK leader George Papandreou be questioned, but the government controls the Parliament.

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