Saturday

10th Dec 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Opinion

A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail

As a result of my peaceful civil activism, I have been arrested 13 times, undergone five trials, and been sentenced to 34 years of imprisonment and 154 lashes in total. I am currently in Evrin prison, without the slightest regret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission silent on Greek spyware sale to Madagascar
  2. A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail
  3. EU lets Croatia into Schengen, keeps Bulgaria and Romania out
  4. Energy crisis costs thousands of EU jobs, but industrial output stable
  5. Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO
  6. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  7. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  8. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us