NEWS

Financial prosecutors identify third-party influence

The two financial prosecutors who recently threatened to quit over intervention in their work gave evidence on Thursday to the Supreme Court in support of their claims and suggested that although politicians or businessmen did not try to exercise influence over their investigations directly, they did so through third parties.

Spyros Mouzakitis and Grigoris Peponis, who were appointed last May to investigate a range of financial crimes that included tax evasion, appeared before Supreme Court prosecutor Fotis Makris after the latter reopened his probe into allegations that the pair?s work was being disrupted.

Sources told Kathimerini the two prosecutors submitted written testimony in which they did not single out any politicians for exercising unwarranted pressure on the judicial process but said that officials and third parties occasionally expressed strong opinions about their investigations, asking for some to be sped up and others to be dropped.

Mouzakitis and Peponis said they were approached in connection to three cases by people who expressed the concerns or praise of politicians and other figures. Sources said the judicial officials named some individuals that came to see them in their offices — including a journalist and several lawyers — to convey the sentiments of a third party.

One of the three cases the prosecutors mentioned is thought to be their investigation into claims of statistics being manipulated at the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) in 2009 to present Greece having a bigger public deficit than it actually did.

Peponis and Mouzakitis have been handling a number of high-profile cases, including major tax evasion, claims that tax officials did not collect fines on fuel trading firms, banks? funding of Alter TV, the continued financing of indebted political parties by lenders and claims of corruption at tax offices.

Makris is set to call the two prosecutors for questioning on Monday.