NEWS

PASOK chief to face MPs over depositors’ list

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos will appear before Parliament?s institutions and transparency committee to answer questions regarding a list of Greek depositors at a Swiss bank, which the Socialist chief hopes will deflect the intense criticism aimed at him recently.

Venizelos has been called before the panel of MPs in connection to his actions during his stint as finance minister and the failure to investigate a list of almost 2,000 Greeks with deposits totaling 1.5 billion euros in the Geneva branch of HSBC. The list had been passed to Athens by French authorities in 2010 but it emerged earlier this month that the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) had not investigated possible tax evasion.

When current Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras suggested earlier this month that the list had gone missing, Venizelos produced a memory stick containing the information, which he handed to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras?s office. This led to Venizelos being criticized for failing to ensure that the list was checked by SDOE and for keeping a copy for himself. It also caused former Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis to quit the party.

Some commentators have suggested that the public relations disaster suffered by Venizelos means it is only a matter of time before his leadership is challenged. Ragousis intends to form a new movement, making him the fourth former member of a PASOK government to adopt an independent line. Ex-government spokesman Ilias Mossialos is one of the founders of Dynamic Greece, former Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Floridis helped set up Social Bond and former health minister Andreas Loverdos intends to present his ?political pamphlet? on October 29. Floridis?s movement is due to hold an event in early November.

None of the four has yet stated an intention to form a new party. Loverdos is the only serving member of PASOK but seems intent on distancing himself from the party.