Not short of twists and turns, the Lagarde list affair veered in a new direction on Wednesday when it emerged that the memory stick containing the names of depositors, which had initially been investigated by prosecutors, had been created in July 2011, after ex-Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou left office and before it was passed to his ultimate successor and current PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.
The Supreme Court instructed financial prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis to hand the USB stick over to the police’s electronic crime squad so experts could work out when the files containing the details of some 2,000 Greeks with accounts at HSBC in Geneva had been transferred to the device.
The prosecutors had obtained the memory stick from Venizelos in October after claims that the data had gone missing prompted an investigation. Venizelos said he received the memory stick in August 2011, when he was finance minister, but was advised by Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) chief Yiannis Diotis that it could not be used to track tax evaders as the information had been obtained illegally.
After obtaining a copy of the original CD with the depositors’ names from French authorities in December and checking it against the memory stick, Greek investigators found three accounts fewer on the USB device. They belonged to Papaconstantinou’s cousin, Eleni, her husband Symeon Sykiaridis and Andreas Rossonis, the spouse of another of the ex-minister’s cousins.
Papaconstantinou, who is set to face a parliamentary inquiry over claims he tampered with the list, admits transferring the data from the original CD to a memory stick in late 2010 but denies doctoring it.
Sources said that the information on the USB stick held by prosecutors was created on July 8, 2011, thereby raising questions about whether a second copy was made and if the data might have been doctored then.
At the time, the list was in Diotis’s possession. He is due to appear before Peponis and Mouzakitis on Monday to provide further evidence. Previously, Diotis denied making a copy of the list.
Yesterday, Eleni Papaconstantinou and her husband, along with Rossonis, denied knowledge of the alleged tampering and told the two prosecutors that their Swiss deposits had been taxed and were derived from legal activities.