ATHENS, July 16 Greek lawmakers voted early on
Tuesday in favour of pressing criminal charges against former
finance minister George Papaconstantinou in a scandal over a
list of potential tax evaders that sparked outrage among
News of the existence of the "Lagarde list" of about 2,000
Greeks with money stashed overseas sparked a political scandal
last year, with many Greeks angry that successive governments
failed to pursue those on the list while heaping austerity cuts
on everyone else.
Papaconstantinou, a U.S. and British-educated economist who
served under former Socialist premier George Papandreou in
2009-2011, was expelled from the co-ruling PASOK party after
prosecutors last year found that the names of three of his
relatives had been deleted from the list.
Of 283 lawmakers in Greece's 300-seat assembly who voted in
a secret ballot on Tuesday, 166 voted in favour of charging
Papaconstantinou with tampering with the list, 208 in favour of
charging him with misconduct, and 220 with breach of duty.
Under Greek law, ministers are protected from prosecution
unless parliament lifts their immunity and decides to press
charges. A five-member judicial council is now expected to
launch a new probe into the case. If found guilty,
Papaconstantinou could face a prison sentence.
"After hundreds of hours of parliamentary committee
sessions, the time has come for Mr Papaconstantinou to be
brought to justice," said Rahil Makri, a lawmaker from the
centre-right Independent Greeks party.
Papaconstantinou has denied any wrongdoing, saying he is the
victim of an attempt to incriminate him.
"I'm not responsible for all of the country's ills,"
Papaconstantinou told parliament ahead of the vote. "Not only is
it unfair to attempt to wash the sins of many governments on my
back, it's something more: it is dishonorable," he said.
Tax evasion is a major problem in Greece, and among the
reasons why the country slid into a debt crisis.
Named after former French finance minister Christine
Lagarde, now managing director of the International Monetary
Fund, the list was first handed to Athens by France in 2010, but
little was heard of it until its existence was revealed in
Revelations that the list was misplaced, locked away in a
cabinet, copied and tampered with have tainted a political class
widely seen as corrupt and to blame for Greece's financial
crisis, which has triggered six years of recession.
On Monday, a prosecutor ordered that two former heads of the
financial crime unit be charged with breach of trust and
removing files in connection the list. They have denied any
(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris and Renee Maltezou; Editing by