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Former Greek statistics chief found guilty of breach of duty

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Former Greek statistics chief found guilty of breach of duty

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ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s former chief statistician was found guilty on Tuesday of breach of duty for failing to inform the statistics agency’s board of his actions on fiscal data. An appeals court handed Andreas Georgiou, a former International Monetary Fund economist, a two-year suspended sentence for sending EU statistics agency Eurostat 2009 Greek fiscal data without telling the board. The prosecutor said Georgiou’s actions displayed “substantial moral disdain”. Georgiou, who stepped down in 2015 after five years running ELSTAT through the height of the Greek and euro zone debt crisis, has denied the charges. Georgiou was charged in 2013 with inflating figures on the 2009 budget deficit. Those charges, which he also denied, were dropped in May but a Supreme Court prosecutor has proposed that the case be reopened. His case has seen fellow senior economists and statisticians from around the world rally behind him. Some are helping to pay for his defence costs. Following Tuesday’s ruling, an EU Commission spokeswoman told a news briefing: “We have full confidence in the reliability and accuracy of ELSTAT data during 2010 to 2015 and beyond.” Georgiou has denied suggestions by politicians, including from the current left-wing government, that he may have helped Athens’ foreign creditors, including his former employer the IMF, by exaggerating Greece’s public debt problems. The case surrounding Georgiou has long been a source of concern for Greece’s international lenders who have extended three bailout loans to Greece since 2010. Georgiou’s accusers maintained his re-calculation of deficit data helped creditors, and weakened Greece. Discrepancies in the way the budget deficit was calculated before 2010 – which angry euro zone partners say concealed the extent of the deficit – helped trigger the financial crisis that subsequently engulfed Greece and the euro zone.

(Reporting by Constantinos Georgizas in Athens; Additional reporting by Francesco Guarascio in Brussels; Writing by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Catherine Evans)
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