NEWS

Court action over statistics

A row over the 2009 deficit figures that led Greece to ask its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund to provide it with bailout loans in 2010 has led to criminal charges being issued against the former vice president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

It has been revealed that following a yearlong investigation, former ELSTAT official Nikos Logothetis has been charged with hacking into the e-mail account of the authority?s president, Andreas Georgiou. Logothetis denies the charges.

His lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, told Skai TV Sunday that Logothetis is the victim of a setup that was instigated because he voiced objections to the way that Georgiou was running the statistics service and that Greece?s final deficit figure for 2009 was much higher than it should have been.

The case came to light in the wake of another ELSTAT official questioning last week the way in which Greece?s deficit figure was revised upward after PASOK came to power in October 2009.

The upward revision of Greece?s budget deficit in 2009 to 15.4 percent of gross domestic product exposed the scale of the country?s fiscal derailment and precipitated the bailout from the eurozone and IMF. But ELSTAT board member Zoi Georganta claimed that German officials at the European Commission?s statistics agency, Eurostat, had pressured Greece to bump up its deficit figure.

?The 2009 deficit was artificially inflated to show that the country had the biggest fiscal shortfall in all of Europe, even higher than Ireland?s, which was 14 percent,? said Georganta, who was sacked last week.

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