A Greek prosecutor has launched an investigation into whether any laws were violated after former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis revealed plans to hack into tax codes and create a parallel payment system, court officials said on Wednesday.
The probe will not focus on Varoufakis himself, since Greek courts can only investigate those who are not ministers or lawmakers, who enjoy parliamentary immunity from prosecution.
Instead it will look into media reports on the plan to see whether any crimes like violation of personal data protection and breach of duty were committed. A group of lawyers filed a lawsuit this week.
Varoufakis this week confirmed he assembled a small team to prepare a parallel payment system as part of a so-called “Plan B” in case Greece was forced to leave the eurozone, prompting shock and outrage from opposition lawmakers who have demanded an inquiry into the matter.
Varoufakis, who stepped down as finance minister this month, has played down the initiative as a contingency plan that was never implemented.
Two separate lawsuits filed against Varoufakis over the case have been transferred to parliament who will decide whether he needs to be investigated. As things stand, he cannot be prosecuted because the immunity rule covers any crime that might have been committed during his term at the finance ministry.
Varoufakis, who has denied any wrongdoing, said that this was an effort to hurt the government.
“Their aim is to register the January-July period as a ‘great’ mistake or even ‘better’ to criminalise the five-month tough negotiations by the government of the Left,” said a statement issued by his office.
One of the suits was filed by the mayor of a Greek town who attacked Varoufakis' personal style, accusing him of “exceptionally unfriendly” behavior and exposing Greece to hostility from eurozone partners.
Greece was on the verge of leaving the euro before striking a last-minute deal at a European Summit on July 13 which imposed a new round of austerity measures in order for talks between Athens and its creditors on a third bailout to begin.