Greece: Ex-finance minister faces tax probe

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Greece: Ex-finance minister faces tax probe

Greece: Ex-finance minister faces tax probe
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The Greek parliament has voted in favour of an inquiry into a former finance minister for his alleged role in a tax evasion scandal.

George Papaconstantinou, who held the role from 2009 to 2011, has been accused of removing three of his relatives from a list of Greeks with secret Swiss bank accounts.

Opposition parties had wanted a wider investigation to include former prime ministers and current Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, who was also finance minister. But that was rejected.

MPs decided by 265 votes to six in favour of a probe into Papaconstantinou’s conduct.

Current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said the vote showed the government was determined to crack down on tax evasion.

“This vote again shows the seriousness we are dedicating to doing these things, to the laws that we are passing and the future laws that we will be passing, in June, a big law for the tax reform. It is a necessary step forward.”

Papaconstantinou denies tampering with the so-called ‘Lagarde list’ of 2000 Greeks with money stashed in Switzerland.

It was given to Greek authorites by then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, now chief of the International Monetary Fund.

As part of plans to resolve its debt crisis, Athens is currently cracking down on massive tax evasion which experts say has been endemic for years.

Senior Syriza party member Dimitris Papadimloulis was hopeful that the probe would proceed following the vote.

“A positive change in Greece would be if an active politician was investigated for alleged criminal responsibility. This takes place in other European countries, but unfortunately not yet in Greece.”