Prosecutors defend Lagarde list probe

Prosecutors defend Lagarde list probe

Prosecutors investigating the Lagarde list of wealthy Greek savers on Monday defended the decision to question former HSBC employee Herve Falciani, adding that the probe was in its infancy even though Greek authorities received the list in 2010.

In a statement, prosecutors said the inquiry was “in its early stages and will require further investigation to be resolved.” They denied reports that Falciani named politicians.

Four Greek prosecutors went to Paris last Friday and interviewed Falciani, prompting criticism by Greek political parties as snap elections are just days away. But the prosecutors rejected any assertion that their actions were politically motivated, insisting that “justice carries out its duty regardless of who is in government.”

The prosecutors’ statement confirmed a Kathimerini report according to which certain people named on the Lagarde list are suspected members of a criminal organization. “The deposition of the witness was taken in the context of a preliminary examination which has been under way since August after the Justice Ministry forwarded a file relating to a racket that mediated in money laundering,” it said.

Speaking on Mega TV on Monday, Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis said that out of the 2,062 Greeks on the list of depositors at HSBC’s Geneva branch, less than 150 have been investigated.

In comments to public broadcaster ERT, Falciani praised the Greek authorities for questioning him and the previous SYRIZA-led government for rekindling the probe into the list. “It was very difficult for the Tsipras government and the prosecutors to move forward,” he said.

Seizing upon Falciani’s comments, SYRIZA said it is determined to pursue the investigation should it win the elections.

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