A special court set up to try former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou handed the former PASOK official a one-year suspended jail sentence on Tuesday despite finding him guilty of tampering with the Lagarde list of Greeks with deposits at the Geneva branch of HSBC.
The 13 judges presiding over the court ruled that Papaconstantinou had deleted the names of three relatives from more than 2,000 on the list that had been handed to the government by French authorities in 2010. However, they decided that the ex-minister’s actions did not lead to the state suffering damages of more than 150,000 euros, which would have led to his crime being treated as a felony.
Instead, the doctoring of the list was treated as a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum jail sentence of five years. The court took into account Papaconstantinou’s clean record and handed him a one-year suspended sentence. Five of the 13 judges had voted for the ex-minister to be cleared of the doctoring charge as they felt there was not enough evidence to support it.
During the trial, which consisted of 10 lengthy sessions over the last few weeks, Papaconstantinou maintained his innocence. He insisted that he did not remove any names from the list when transferring it from a CD to a memory stick that was later passed to the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) so it could investigate for possible tax evaders.