NEWS

Prosecutors seek probe into stats agency chief

Financial prosecutors on Tuesday called for a magistrate to conduct an inquiry into whether the head of Greece’s statistical service ELSTAT, Andreas Georgiou, and two of his colleagues artificially inflated the size of the country’s budget deficit in 2009 to justify an EU-IMF bailout and subsequent austerity measures.

The prosecutors reportedly found evidence to support claims by a former employee of ELSTAT, Zoe Georganta, that Georgiou inflated Greece’s deficit for 2009 to over 15 percent of gross domestic product, a figure three times higher than the conservative government’s forecast in 2009. They have asked a special magistrate who focuses on cases of corruption to determine whether Georgiou should face trial on charges of dereliction of duty and making false statements. The magistrate has also been asked to seek possible “moral instigators,” suggesting that politicians in key positions at the time could come under fresh scrutiny.

A parliamentary probe last year into Georganta’s claims concluded that neither former Prime Minister George Papandreou nor former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou should be held responsible for wrongdoing in connection with the affair.

Socialist PASOK issued a statement on Tuesday, claiming that the new inquiry proposed by prosecutors was based on “conspiracy theories.”

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