Greek chief statistician cleared of charges after eight years of hell

It’s astonishing what they put this guy through, just because he revealed how bad their books were.

A Greek court acquitted the country’s former statistics chief of faking the budget deficit that deepened the country’s debt crisis, likely ending a marathon prosecution that has drawn widespread international criticism and raised doubts about the objectivity of Greek justice.

The Athens Appeals Court decided late Thursday to drop charges against Andreas Georgiou of artificially inflating the budget deficit for 2009, saying—after eight years of investigations—that there was no evidence of a crime.

The ruling will raise hopes in the European Union that Greece’s judiciary and political establishment are finally accepting that the country’s fiscal derailment was real, and not a conspiracy to subjugate the nation as Mr. Georgiou’s accusers alleged.

It was the third time that the court has ruled to acquit Mr. Georgiou, however. On both previous occasions, Greece’s Supreme Court ordered the case revived, amid pressure from parts of the political class to punish the man who revealed the full extent of Greece’s fiscal indiscipline.

[…]

Mr. Georgiou, a former International Monetary Fund official who now lives in the U.S., ran Greece’s official statistics body, Elstat, from 2010 to 2015 and for the first time brought Greece into full compliance with EU rules on reporting government deficits.

Greek governments in the 2000s systematically understated public spending and liabilities, EU probes have found. In October 2009, the government of then-Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, leader of the conservative New Democracy party, told the EU that the annual deficit would be 6% of gross domestic product—even though internal government data showed the deficit had already surpassed 10%.

When Mr. Karamanlis lost elections that month, the incoming government’s revelation that Athens had misled the EU, financial markets and Greek voters about public finances led to the unraveling of Greece’s bond market and marked the start of the eurozone debt crisis.

The full deficit for 2009 was over 15%, Mr. Georgiou reported a year later. The EU certified that he had applied European accounting rules correctly, fixing previous omissions.

But supporters of Mr. Karamanlis have long insisted that Mr. Georgiou inflated the deficit. Some of his accusers said he was an IMF agent, implanted in Athens to justify and perpetuate Greece’s strict international bailout by the IMF and eurozone.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/man-who-revealed-the-depth-of-greeces-financial-quagmire-is-cleared-11551435051

 

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