ATHENS Oct 29 A major Greek newspaper reprinted
the names of more than 2,000 wealthy Greeks with Swiss bank
accounts on Monday and the editor who first published the list
was to go on trial for violating data privacy laws.
Ta Nea devoted 10 pages to the list of accounts said to hold
some 2 billion euros until 2007, a sum that riveted
austerity-hit Greeks, angry at the privileges of politicians and
an elite seen as having enriched themselves at the country's
The list, given to Greece by French authorities in 2010,
contains the names of 2,059 Greek account holders at HSBC in
Switzerland to be probed for possible tax evasion.
It has been dubbed the "Lagarde List" after Christine
Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund who was the
French finance minister when the list was handed over.
The centre-left daily said that despite publishing the same
list released by the weekly magazine Hot Doc it was not leaping
to any conclusions about "its content nor the connotations it
evokes in a large part of the public."
It did not say why it had decided to reprint the list and
stressed there was no evidence linking any one on the list to
Costas Vaxevanis, editor of "Hot Doc" that first went to
print with the list, was due in court later on Monday on
misdemeanour charges. He could face up to two years in prison if
"Ta Nea is publishing the list today. Will they be
prosecuted? A month ago it published a list of the tax returns
of celebrities. Charges weren't filed," Vaxevanis wrote on his
"Today, it's not Hot Doc that's on trial but press freedom
in Greece, and truth," Vaxevanis said.
The magazine says the list, which includes well-known
political and business figures, was sent to it anonymously and
authorities have not confirmed if the list was authentic.
MUZZLING THE MEDIA
Greek authorities have said there is no evidence that people
included in the list have violated the law, but former ministers
have come under fire in Greek media for not investigating the
list for suspected evaders.
"He published a list of names without special permission and
violated the law on personal data," a police official said on
Sunday following the arrest of Vaxevanis.
"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
Court officials said the names of two politicians on the
list have been referred to parliament for investigation, and the
accounts controversy has highlighted deep divisions in a country
now in its fifth straight year of recession, where austerity
measures have taken a heavy toll on poorer sections of society.
In a video sent to Reuters by his magazine, Vaxevanis
defended his actions and said his prosecution was an attempt by
the authorities to muzzle the press.
"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."
"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."