EU parliament to stage hearing on Greek statistics

BRUSSELS, March 4 Thu Mar 4, 2010 12:36pm EST

BRUSSELS, March 4 (Reuters) - The European Parliament will soon organise a public hearing on the unreliable Greek statistics, the EU assembly said in a statement on Thursday.

The hearing "of all those implicated in the falsification of Greek public accounts" is to be "promptly" organised by the parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, the statement said, but gave no exact date for the hearing.

The statement said that parliament would invite to it the representatives of the European Commission, the Eurogroup, the European Central Bank, Eurostat, the Greek government, investment bank Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and others.

"This hearing is not intended to look for an easy scapegoat in Goldman Sachs, although its practices pose serious problems elsewhere especially concerning its participation in the current wave of speculation on Greek debt," former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, now a member of European Parliament, said in the statement.

"The goal is to understand how and why the entire political and administrative chain, from Athens to Brussels passing through Frankfurt, could have ignored the dressing up of Greek public accounts ", said Verhofstadt, who originally proposed the idea of the hearing.

The European Commission has said in a report earlier this year that Greek statistics were unreliable and prone to political influence after a new government in Athens revealed that the country's budget deficit would be 12.7 percent in 2009 - double the initially forecast amount.

It also revised upwards deficit data for 2008. Goldman Sachs helped the Greek government in 2001 to organise financing through complex financial instruments which Greece did not include in its overall borrowing figures -- a practice Athens says did not break any rules in place at the time.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, editing by Ron Askew)

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