New Inquiry Ires ELSTAT Chief

The head of the country's statistics agency is furious a probe into allegations the agency inflated Greece's deficit to get an international bailout is being reopened after prosecutors said should be dropped.

ATHENS – The head of the country’s statistics agency is furious a probe into allegations the agency falsely inflated the size of the country’s deficit five years ago to get an international bailout is being reopened after prosecutors said it was groundless and should be dropped.

Andreas Georgiou is chief of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) and criticized a recent Council of Appeals Court decision to launch a new investigation. In a statement, Georgiou pointed out that the 2009 figure has been approved by the European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat and that a European Parliament report has highlighted that Greece’s fiscal statistics were being manipulated prior to his arrival at ELSTAT, which played a significant role in the build-up to the crisis.

Georgiou said the judges’ decision sent a “clear message that anyone who dares to enforce European regulations … will be dragged to court under the constant threat of having his personal freedom denied or facing unbearable financial consequences.”

He added that the investigation is being pushed by politicians to protect themselves from criticism they had created the crisis with years of runaway patronage and wild overspending. “The ultimate goal is to push aside the political responsibilities for the model of governance that led the country to economic catastrophe and the poverty we are experiencing today,” he said. The charges were first brought by a disgruntled worker.