Up to 60 politicians scrutinized as part of SDOE's graft investigation

Up to 60 politicians are being investigated by SDOE, Greece?s financial crimes squad, for suspected tax evasion and other financial crimes, Kathimerini understands.

The figure is nearly double earlier estimates that put the number of officials under scrutiny between 32 and 36. SDOE has so far refused to confirm that the names which appeared last week in the local media are, in fact, on the list.

According to sources, the actual list includes the names of three government officials, as well as of a number of former ministers and MPs. The biggest majority of them, some 29 politicians, served in the Attica district, according to the same sources. Eight are politicians elected in Thessaloniki.

The list is now in the hands of Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Nikolaos Pantelis. Pantelis is to begin examining the list tomorrow and will ask SDOE to conduct a further investigation if necessary.

The corruption scandal took a nasty turn last week with the suicide of a former deputy interior minister, Leonidas Tzanis, whose name was reportedly on the list. Tzanis, a PASOK socialist, hanged himself in his house in Volos, central Greece.

His suicide sent shock waves through PASOK, which has already been rattled by the existence of another list of possible tax offenders, dubbed by the media as the ?Lagarde list.? PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos has come under fire, also from within his increasingly fragile party, over his handling of an electronic file given to Athens in 2010 by then-French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde of about 2,000 Greeks with large deposits in a Geneva branch of HSBC.

Former Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis left PASOK on Wednesday over the party chief?s handling of the issue, while another party heavyweight, Andreas Loverdos, appears to have distanced himself from Venizelos, a former ally. Developments in the party could destabilize Greece?s governing coalition, of which PASOK is a member.

Meanwhile, financial crimes prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis on Friday ruled that there are no legal obstacles stopping authorities from making use of the list. Other European governments have in the past utilized similar information.