Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Ex-Greek data chief sentenced over deficit figures

  • Georgiou had been accused of inflating deficit statistics, leading to a harsher bailout programme for the country (Photo: EUobserver)

A Greek court has punished a former head of the country’s statistics agency in a case that revived controversy over the origins of the financial crisis and alleged meddling in the judiciary.

The appeals court gave Andreas Georgiou, who headed the Greek Hellenic Statistical Authority (Elstat), from 2010 to 2015, a two-year suspended sentence for breach of duty on Tuesday (1 August).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It found him guilty of having sent data about Greece's 2009 budget deficit to Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, in November 2010 without informing Elstat's board.

The figures established under Georgiou's authority in 2010 showed a higher deficit than had been previously declared by Greek authorities - 15.4 percent of GDP, instead of 13.6 percent.

Georgiou's statistics were instrumental in talks with the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the start of Greece's first bailout. Critics said that because of them a harsher programme was imposed on the country.

A larger deficit than first reported meant that Greece had to make more cuts under the authority of the creditor institutions.

Georgiou, who became head of Elsat in August 2010, was first charged in 2013 for allegedly inflating the deficit figures - a criminal offence.

The case was dropped in 2015, then reopened after a prosecutor appealed. It was dropped a second time in May and reopened in July.

Although the former statistics chief was convicted on Tuesday, he was cleared of the criminal charges.

"It is a resounding victory for Mr. Georgiou," his lawyer told Associated Press. "It's like being charged for a deadly traffic accident and being convicted for failing to renew your driver's license."

The lawyer added that he had advised Georgiou, who lives in the US, to appeal even the lighter conviction at the Greek Supreme Court.

The European Commission said it "took note" of the ruling and said that the independence of Elsat was a "key commitment" by Greece under the bailout memorandum.

Last year, the EU executive had called on the Greek government to "actively and publicly challenge the false impression that data were manipulated" under Georgiou.

On Tuesday, it said that it had “full confidence in the reliability and accuracy of Elsat data during 2010 to 2015 and beyond."

The trial and conviction come after the Greek government was recently accused by judges of trying to put the judiciary under political pressure over Georgiou's and a few other cases.

In statement in late July the association of judges and prosecutors said that the government "is systematically attempting to subjugate and control justice."

They said that "ministers and lawmakers launch baseless accusations daily [and] seek to erode the prestige of the Greek justice system."

Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos also warned in an address to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the return of democracy to Greece that: "Only in a democratic regime and the separation of powers that is inherent in this can a person live and create freely.”

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras answered that “justice is and must remain independent," but that ministers had a right to criticise judges.

Greece looking at bond market return

Greece could issue 3-year bonds as early as this week, for the first time in three years, amid mixed signs from its creditors and rating agencies.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us