SDOE had ‘no order’ to inspect Lagarde list

Former Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) head Yiannis Kapeleris told the special court trying ex-Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou that the latter never issued official instructions for the Lagarde list of more than 2,000 Greeks with deposits at the Geneva branch of HSBC to be investigated for tax evasion.

Kapeleris told the court that while Papaconstantinou was minister he showed a clear interest in the probes carried out by SDOE and was always keen for the agency to gather revenues. However, Kapeleris added that the minister only ever asked him to conduct a cursory examination of 10 names from the depositors list, without giving him full access to the information.

“I was not given instructions to carry out a check,” said Kapeleris. “For that to happen, there would have to be an official written order, which would have to be recorded, so I could ask the relevant services to begin making checks. But how could I make checks? I did not have the list. I had no information. I could not go just on people’s names.”

The former general secretary of the Finance Ministry, Ilias Plaskovitis, also told the court that Papaconstantinou had checked up on the progress of investigations into tax evasion. He added that there was a meeting at the Finance Ministry in January 2011, when it was decided that the information on the list would be used for targeted inspections. Plaskovitis said that it was agreed the list should be dealt with discreetly to avoid riling Swiss authorities.

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