Ex-finance minister denies tampering with list of Greeks with Swiss accounts

Former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou appeared before a special court on Wednesday on charges of tampering with a document and attempted breach of trust in connection with his handling of the so-called Lagarde list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts.

“I am innocent,” Papaconstantinou told the court. “I categorically deny all the charges.”

The former minister, who signed Greece’s first loan agreement with international creditors, was given a list of some 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts in 2010 by then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who now leads the International Monetary Fund. He is accused of removing the names of three of his relatives from the list.

If convicted, he faces a long prison sentence, particularly if judges deem that he is guilty of offenses against the state.

On the first day of the trial, which is expected to last several weeks, judges heard from several witnesses, including three former heads of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE), Ioannis Diotis, Ioannis Kapeleris and Stelios Stasinopoulos. The head of the Finance Ministry department that checks on very wealthy taxpayers, known by its acronym KEFOMEP, Dimitris Masinas, and another formerly high-ranking official at SDOE, Panayiotis Mantouvalos, also provided testimony, as did the former head of Papaconstantinou’s office, Chrysi Hatzi, who took delivery of the Lagarde list from an employee of the French Embassy in Athens in 2010.