A statistics trial “farce” as correctly the FT puts it, is the kind of “show” we usually see in Third World dictatorships, that want to maintain appearances, even if they are the only ones that believe in them.
In this Greek affair every single party involved, with no exceptions, is to be blamed, for indecent behavior, or even a criminal one.
The former Greek governments, the current one, Mr Aléxis Tsípras that rejected a first proposed deal only to accept a second one much worse, the SYRISA Party, the International Monetary Fund, Goldman Sachs that helped manipulate accounts, all the European Union entities that were always aware of what was going on, France and Germany that did nothing except bailout their own banks and financially profit from the crisis, the European Central Bank, and finally all the other Euro zone Countries that allowed this Greek tragedy to continue just to keep this virtual reality game going on.
There are no innocents!
Not even the Greeks!
Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira
Eurozone officials in warning on Greece statistics trial ‘farce’
By Jim Brunsden and Arthur Beesley in Brussels and Kerin Hope in Athens, Source: FT.com
Senior eurozone officials have warned that the continued prosecution in Greece of its former statistics chief is threatening to drive a wedge between Athens and its euro area creditors, only weeks after the country brokered a deal on the next stages of its €86bn bailout.
A suspended sentence handed down this week against Andreas Georgiou has prompted consternation among EU policymakers, reviving what many capitals fear is a series of politically motivated trials intended to restore the economic reputation of previous governments.
The long-running affair is likely to be put on the agenda of eurozone finance ministers in September amid “concern about the conviction across institutions”, said a diplomat. The judicial proceedings centre on Mr Georgiou’s time in charge of Elstat, the independent statistics agency set up as a condition of the first Greek bailout.
In remarks on Twitter that reflect deep unease in Brussels at Mr Georgiou’s conviction, Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission vice-president, said he was following developments with concern. It was “important that [the] independence of Elstat and people who do their jobs are protected in line with the law”, said Mr Dombrovskis, who has responsibility for euro affairs.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Dombrovskis said the independence of national statistics offices was a “key pillar of the proper functioning” of the euro and “one of the main elements forming the trust amongst euro area member states”.
“This is why it is protected in EU law. This is why it cannot be challenged.”
In an informal, written account of Mr Georgiou’s trial in an Athens appeal court, a European statistics expert called as a defence witness described the case as “an intimidating pre-set farce”.
The account, mailed to some EU officials and seen by the Financial Times, lays bare the extent of the worries within European institutions about the affair. “It was blatantly clear that no one listened to our declarations,” the expert wrote.
The account described “open threatening behaviour” in court and a “horribly hostile” atmosphere, saying the proceedings had to be stopped for 45 minutes because people were shouting and screaming during the expert’s evidence. “I would have never thought that ‘trials’ like this could happen in a democratic EU country.”
Mr Georgiou has so far faced six closed-door deliberations by the supreme court and four open trials over claims that he inflated the size of the country’s budget deficit in 2009.
In addition, he has faced linked claims that he damaged the country’s interests, violated internal procedures, defamed Elstat colleagues and continued working for his former employers, the International Monetary Fund, even after he joined the new agency.
The affair dates back to 2011 when a junior financial prosecutor ordered an inquiry into whether Mr Georgiou had been working against Greek interests. Separate cases were later filed by two sacked Elstat board members and a senior Elstat employee.
He denies all the charges, and has been supported by European institutions which accepted Elstat data without reservation when he was in charge from 2010 until 2015. Mr Dombrovskisreiterated that “we have full confidence in the reliability and accuracy” of that data.
Contrary to prosecution claims against Mr Georgiou, EU officials have repeatedly argued that he played a decisive role in improving the reputation of Greek statistics that had been shattered by Athens’ repeated understating of the deficit in the years before the crisis erupted in the country in 2009.
In the latest case, three appeal court judges ruled unanimously that Mr Georgiou was at fault for failing to inform and discuss statistical issues with fellow board members, even though this would have gone against the EU’s code of statistical practice.
The re-emergence of the Georgiou affair comes at a time of mounting optimism around Greece and its bailout.
Last month, the commission said that Athens should no longer be considered as being in breach of EU deficit rules, proposing to close an “excessive deficit procedure” opened when Greeceplunged into its sovereign debt crisis in 2009. In recent weeks, the country also succeeded in carrying out its first bond sale for three years.
One senior EU diplomat said it was not certain that the affair would go so far as to disrupt the bailout. “But [the] general position would be one of strong support for Georgiou.”
“The figures which he returned were validated by Eurostat,” the senior diplomat said, in reference to the EU’s statistics office. “I would be surprised if there were not unanimity on this approach.”
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017
(c) 2017 The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved. Please do not cut and paste FT articles and redistribute by email or post to the web.