Coalition set for clash with SYRIZA over scope of Papaconstantinou probe

Having submitted a proposal to Parliament for ex-Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou to be investigated in connection to allegations he tampered with the Lagarde list, the coalition government looks set for a head-on clash with main opposition SYRIZA, which believes that other officials, including PASOK’s current and former leader should face an inquiry.

A proposal signed by 71 MPs from New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left was submitted to Parliament on December 31. It suggests that Papaconstantinou should face a parliamentary inquiry over allegations that he removed data regarding three accounts that were held by his relatives from the list of 2,062 Greek depositors at the Geneva branch of HSBC.

The coalition wants the panel of MPs to decide whether the ex-minister should be prosecuted for doctoring an official document and for breach of duty.

The proposal to indict Papaconstantinou is due to be debated by MPs between January 14 and 18. A secret ballot, requiring a simple majority, will be held to decide whether to proceed with a probe. The ex-minister will have the chance to address Parliament.

On Monday, he dismissed the coalition’s move as an attempt to “manufacture guilt.” The ex-finance minister said that he was at Parliament’s disposal but called for the House to conduct a thorough investigation rather than allow him to become a scapegoat.

“I have nothing to hide and I will not be a willing Iphigenia for anyone,” he said, adding that authorities and his successor at the Finance Ministry, PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos, had the data “in their possession for the last 18 months.”

The former head of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE), Yiannis Diotis, insisted in a statement on Monday that Papaconstantinou never gave him official instructions to investigate the people on the list for possible tax evasion. He also said that he received a memory stick from the ex-finance minister, rather than the CD Papaconstantinou had allegedly been given by French authorities.

In their proposal, the coalition parties identify the transfer of the date from a CD to USB as the moment when the alleged doctoring may have taken place.

Meanwhile the war of words between PASOK and SYRIZA intensified. In a statement on Monday, PASOK accused the leftist party of exploiting the affair to play “a coarse political game” with the aim of destabilizing PASOK and the coalition government and of “political yobbishness and puerility.”

SYRIZA is set to submit its own proposal for the creation of a parliamentary committee to probe the possible indictment of three politicians in connection with the Lagarde list – Papaconstantinou, Venizelos and former Prime Minister and PASOK chief George Papandreou.