(Adds details, background)
By Lefteris Papadimas
ATHENS Oct 28 Greek police arrested the editor
of a weekly magazine for publishing a list of more than 2,000
names of wealthy Greeks who have placed money in Swiss bank
accounts, police said on Sunday.
The so-called "Lagarde List" - given to Greece by French
authorities in 2010 with names of Greek account holders at HSBC
in Switzerland to be probed for possible tax evasion - has been
a topic of heated speculation in the Greek media. It is named
after International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who
was French finance minister when it was handed over.
"Hot Doc" magazine published 2,059 names, including those of
some well-known business and political figures on Saturday, who
it said together held deposits worth 2 billion euros until 2007.
The magazine said it had been sent the list anonymously.
Authorities did not confirm if the list was authentic.
Editor Costas Vaxevanis was arrested for violating laws on
releasing private data on Sunday, police said. He was released
pending trial after appearing before a prosecutor.
"He published a list of names without special permission and
violated the law on personal data," a police official said.
"There is no proof that the persons or companies included in
that list have violated the law. There is no evidence that they
violated the law on tax evasion or money laundering," the
The list has inspired much discussion in near-bankrupt
Greece, where public anger at politicians and the wealthy elite
grows as austerity measures take a toll on the poorer sections
The names of two politicians on the list have been referred
to parliament for investigation, court officials said.
"DID MY JOB"
In a video sent to Reuters by his magazine, Vaxevanis
appeared on camera to defend his decision to publish the list.
"I did nothing other than what a journalist is obliged to
do. I revealed the truth that they were hiding," he said. "If
anyone is accountable before the law then it is those ministers
who hid the list, lost it and said it didn't exist. I only did
my job. I am a journalist and I did my job."
He accused authorities of trying to muzzle the press.
"The important thing is that a group of people - when Greece
is starving - make a profit and try to create the Greece they
want," he said.
"Tomorrow in parliament they will vote to cut 100-200 euros
in pay for the Greek civil servant, for the Greek worker, while
at the same time most of the 2,000 people on the list appear to
be evading tax by secretly sending money to Switzerland."
Details surrounding the list have dribbled out in recent
George Papaconstantinou, who was Greece's finance minister
when the list was first handed to Athens, last week told a
parliament committee that he gave about 20 names from the list
to the head of the financial crimes squad for checks.
He also said that he gave a CD containing the list to one of
his aides when he stepped down from the post, but that the CD
then appeared to have been misplaced.
Evangelos Venizelos, chief of the PASOK Socialists and also
a former finance chief, said he had a USB flash drive containing
a list but it was not clear if it was the original.
Both the former finance ministers have come under criticism
in Greek media for not doing enough to investigate those on the
list. Current Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras last week said
he will ask for the list once again from French authorities.
(Writing by Deepa Babington, editing by Rosalind Russell and