Editor facing jail term over publishing rich list
ATHENS — A major Greek newspaper reprinted the names of more than 2,000 wealthy Greeks with Swiss bank accounts today and the editor who first published the list was to go on trial for violating data privacy laws.
Ta Nea devoted 10 pages to the list of accounts said to hold some ‚2 billion until 2007, a sum that riveted austerity-hit Greeks, angry at the privileges of politicians and an elite seen as having enriched themselves at the country’s expense.
The list, given to Greece by French authorities in 2010, contains the names of 2,059 Greek account holders at HSBC in Switzerland to be probed for possible tax evasion.
It has been dubbed the “Lagarde List” after Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund who was the French finance minister when the list was handed over.
The centre-left daily said that despite publishing the same list released by the weekly magazine Hot Doc it was not leaping to any conclusions about “its content nor the connotations it evokes in a large part of the public.”
It did not say why it had decided to reprint the list and stressed there was no evidence linking any one on the list to tax evasion.
Costas Vaxevanis, editor of Hot Doc that first went to print with the list, was due in court today on misdemeanor charges. He could face up to two years in prison if convicted.
“Ta Nea is publishing the list today. Will they be prosecuted? A month ago it published a list of the tax returns of celebrities. Charges weren’t filed,” Vaxevanis wrote on his Twitter account.
“Today, it’s not Hot Doc that’s on trial but press freedom in Greece, and truth,” Vaxevanis said. (Reuters)