ATHENS Jan 25 Greek statistics agency employees
on Friday urged their embattled chief to step down pending his
trial on charges he artificially inflated the country's deficit
to make its debt crisis appear worse.
The ELSTAT agency's head Andreas Georgiou has denied the
charges filed this week by a prosecutor against him and two
other ELSTAT employees that he produced erroneous 2009 budget
Both the Greek government and the European Union's own
Eurostat statistics agency have defended him, saying the deficit
was calculated in line with its standards.
But the agency's workers' union said Georgiou could not stay
in charge before his name is cleared by the courts.
"There is a moral obligation to remove ELSTAT's chairman
until there is a final ruling," the agency's labour union said
in a statement.
The case stems from allegations by an ELSTAT employee who
was dismissed that Georgiou inflated the deficit numbers as part
of a German-led conspiracy to justify harsh austerity measures
to accompany an EU/International Monetary Fund bailout.
ELSTAT's labour union, which has clashed before with
Georgiou, sided with that view. "It is now proven that recourse
to the IMF had been decided all along," it said.
"It is beyond belief that ELSTAT should be led by a man of
our creditors... the national statistics agency is an
indivisible part of our country's national sovereignty."
Georgiou, a 52-year old veteran IMF statistician, was
appointed in 2010 to restore the battered credibility of Greek
statistics, a year after the country's debt crisis erupted when
the-then government revealed the budget deficit had been grossly
In November 2010, shortly after he took over, the 2009
budget deficit was revised again to more than 15 percent of
gross domestic product from 13.6 percent, indicating the scale
of the fiscal derailment and deepening the country's crisis.
The charges reopen last year's domestic political row on
whether wrong fiscal data in late 2009 was to blame for forcing
Athens to seek an international bailout that has since swollen
to 240 billion euros - the biggest sovereign rescue in history.
Georgiou said in a statement on Thursday he would "continue
to apply the law, despite the adversities".
If convicted on charges of breach of faith - a crime that
usually applies to those who embezzle or misuse public funds -
Georgiou could face at least five years in jail. No date has
been set for a trial, and an investigator is due to pursue a
further inquiry into the case.