Ex-PM may face probe over deficit statistics

The prosecutor investigating claims that Greece?s statistics service inflated the country?s public deficit figure to justify tougher austerity measures has recommended that Parliament should investigate whether former Prime Minister George Papandreou committed any offenses.

Financial prosecutor Grigoris Peponis delivered the results of his initial probe into the alleged wrongdoing to the Supreme Court on Friday.

Supreme Court prosecutor Nikos Pantelis has been appointed to examine the case file and decide whether it should be referred to Parliament in relation to possible charges against Papandreou and former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou.

The probe was launched following allegations made last September by Zoe Georganta, a former employee of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). Shortly after she was dismissed from the service, Georganta claimed that 2009 deficit data had been artificially inflated from around 12-13 percent to 15.4 percent of gross domestic product. The statistician claimed that European officials wanted Greece to show a greater deficit than Ireland in order to trigger a bailout and tough fiscal measures.

Georganta?s allegations were later supported by Nikos Logothetis, the former vice president of ELSTAT. Logothetis denied charges that he hacked into the e-mail account of Andreas Georgiou, who was appointed head of the overhauled and more independent ELSTAT in 2010.

Peponis invited Georgiou to give evidence but did not end up taking a deposition from him. In his report, Peponis justified forwarding the case file to the Supreme Court before hearing from Georgiou by saying that he had collected several statements from witnesses who claimed that the deficit figure had been inflated.

The suggestion that Papandreou might face investigation drew strong criticism from PASOK spokesman Panos Beglitis, who questioned the prosecutor?s handling of the case.

Beglitis accused Peponis of ?dangerous oversight? and of being part of a ?well-organized intervention in political and economic life, which puts national interests in danger.?

Beglitis called on the Supreme Court to ?do its duty.?

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