The Supreme Court has asked for the memory stick containing the so-called Lagarde list to be investigated for electronic traces that might reveal when it was tampered with and by whom as former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou publicly denied accusations that he had removed the names of three of his relatives from the list.
In a document sent to the two financial prosecutors investigating the list, the court’s vice prosecutor Nikos Pantelis asked them to hand over the USB stick to the head of the police’s electronic crimes squad, noting that several press reports had noted that the squad has the ability to determine the exact date and time that the stick was tampered with and from which computer the intervention was carried out, which would help authorities to identify the perpetrator.
The development came just a few hours after Papaconstantinou sought to defend himself in his first interview since the coalition government called for him to face a parliamentary investigation. In an interview with state TV channel NET late on Monday, Papaconstantinou admitted to making mistakes in handling the Lagarde list but denied tampering with it and said he had been unaware that the names of three of his relatives had been on the list.
Financial prosecutors are on Wednesday expected to hear explanations from the relatives – a first cousin of Papaconstantinou, her husband and the spouse of another cousin of the ex-minister. It is possible that the trio will submit explanations about their bank accounts to the prosecutors in writing.
The prosecutors are also expected to summon aides of the ex-minister for questioning and to recall two former chiefs of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE), Yiannis Diotis and Yiannis Kapeleris, for additional testimony soon.
In a related development, SDOE on Tuesday announced that it had asked banks to provide the details of 6,000 Greeks as part of its ongoing investigation into tax evasion and money laundering.
Parliament is set to vote in the next few days on whether to set up an inquiry to investigate Papaconstantinou but the process was complicated Tuesday when the Independent Greeks proposed that other political figures should be probed as well. The right-wing party called for Papaconstantinou’s successor at the Finance Ministry, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, and former prime ministers George Papandreou and Lucas Papademos to answer MPs’ questions. Neofascist party Golden Dawn said it would support the proposal.
SYRIZA has already submitted a request for Papaconstantinou and Venizelos to be investigated by a parliamentary committee. The latest proposal means that the vote will be delayed slightly as parliamentary rules require those who face possible inquiries to have seven days to prepare their speeches ahead of MPs voting.
Tuesday’s developments mean that lawmakers will have to decide which of the three proposals to vote for (the coalition suggests that just Papaconstantinou should be investigated) some time next week. For a proposal to be adopted, it needs a majority of votes in the 300-seat Parliament. Sources said it is likely that ballot boxes bearing the names of each of the four politicians named in the proposals will be set up and that those gathering more than 150 votes will be probed by a committee consisting of 12 deputies.
SYRIZA stepped up its attacks on the government Tuesday, accusing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras specifically of attempting to cover up the Lagarde list affair. "From the prime minister’s stance and actions, it appears that the effort to cover up and protect can be attributed to one person: Antonis Samaras,” Tsipras told his party’s lawmakers.
“The prime minister is protecting those who placed the Lagarde list in their drawers,” added the leftist leader in a broadside at Venizelos, before he accused the coalition of taking an oath of silence over the list.
Venizelos responded by accusing SYRIZA of “old-style leftism.” In a reference to a squat recently raided by police in central Athens, the PASOK leader said SYRIZA’s proposal was similar to “proclamations written in Villa Amalia.”