NEWS

Ex-PM Papandreou called to Athens to testify

Unsatisfied with a written statement sent by George Papandreou earlier this week, the parliamentary committee investigating the so-called Lagarde list of Greek depositors Wednesday voted in favor of inviting the former Greek prime minister, currently in the USA, to testify in person.

The decision, following an 8-1 vote Wednesday, came as a surprise to leftist SYRIZA deputies who had submitted the request as their conservative colleagues, who are a majority in the 13-strong panel, had earlier signaled that they would reject it. PASOK’s Panayiotis Rigas was the only member of the committee to vote against inviting Papandreou.

New Democracy deputies were reportedly concerned that a decision not to summon Papandreou would expose them to criticism from the leftist opposition of trying to protect the former premier from scrutiny. They suggested it would be difficult to justify a Papandreou opt-out after PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos’s testimony before the panel last week.

Papandreou’s aides were reportedly surprised by the vote outcome. They suggested that ND’s switch was a bid by the fragile coalition partners to back Venizelos in his thinly-disguised rivalry with his predecessor as party chief. Sources said it was nevertheless unlikely Papandreou would appear in Athens. He is expected to insist that his memo has covered all issues that may concern him.

Papandreou was premier when former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou is alleged to have tampered with the list of Greek depositors at an HSBC branch in Geneva. The panel wants Papandreou to testify as to whether he had any knowledge of how the list was handled after Christine Lagarde, then France’s finance minister, gave it to Papaconstantinou before he passed it on to financial investigators.