Ex-SDOE chief rebuffs claims he ignored orders to probe Lagarde list

A former head of the Financial Crimes Unit (SDOE), Yiannis Kapeleris, has told prosecutors that Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou never asked him to carry out a detailed investigation into a list of some 2,000 names of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts given to the latter by his French counterpart at the time, Christine Lagarde, in 2010.

In supplementary testimony on Tuesday to prosecutors probing the political handling of the so-called ?Lagarde list,? Kapeleris reportedly claimed to have checked out 10 names from the list as requested by Papaconstantinou and to have told the then minister that their income did not justify the deposits in their Swiss accounts but claimed that he was not ordered to investigate those names, or any of the others on the list, any further.

?I never received any orders from Mr Papaconstantinou for further investigation. And I never received an official document from the Finance Ministry ordering my agency to carry out a detailed investigation into those 10 cases,? Kapeleris was quoted as saying.

The testimony by the former SDOE chief contrasts with claims by Papaconstantinou, published in the Guardian, according to which Greek authorities failed to act on the list because they were afraid of confronting elite tax evaders.

In a related development, Parliament?s transparency committee narrowly voted against calling former Prime Minister George Papandreou to testify in connection with the probe into the handling of the Lagarde list. The vote was held after an MP of leftist opposition SYRIZA, Zoe Constantopoulou, claimed that Papandreou had been aware of the existence of the list.

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