Letter from Athens: Do the Math: Georgiou Got it Right, Greece Needed Bailouts

Mr. Andreas Georgiou. Photo by ICON PRESS / Liakos Yannis (File).

As witch hunts go, the ludicrous persecution and prosecution of Andreas Georgiou, the former head of the national statistics agency ELSTAT on trumped-up charges of fudging the numbers to force Greece to seek a bailout, is right up there with Salem and the Ox-Bow incident.

Georgiou, who left the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. for the patriotic chore of turning around an agency charged with deliberately misleading the European Union and being beholden to politicians, was a scapegoat, plain and simple.

It’s so much easier to target a statistics specialist – math is truth, after all – and an honest man, rarer in Greece than a politician with a spine – than for political leaders and governments to admit Greece needed bailouts because of wild overspending and runaway patronage for generations.

They couldn’t answer why, if he faked a report and the economy wasn’t really that bad off when international creditors provided a first bailout of 110 billion euros ($129.52 billion) in 2009, Greece needed a second for 130 billion euros ($153.06 billion) in 2012 and a third in 2015 for 86 billion euros ($101.26 billion.) Figures don’t lie and liars don’t figure.

His work was backed by the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat, and proved by the need for more bailouts, and he was twice cleared by Greek courts.

But this is Greece where double jeopardy doesn’t apply and prosecutors search for hanging judges so Georgiou was tried again – in absentia because he wisely caught the last train for the coast in 2015 and hightailed it to the United States to get away from the cuckoo government of the Looney Left SYRIZA trying to tar and feather him.

He was convicted – not over his work, but for not informing the ELSTAT board – which he didn’t trust after he said his emails were hacked and he sniffed out political interference with politicians trying to protect their backs.

His work in 2009 came when the then-PASOK Anti-Socialists were in power. The second bailout came when PASOK was junior partners in a government led by the New Democracy Capitalists, and the third under SYRIZA, and they all gunned for him to deflect attention from their criminality and venality.

They didn’t want a man they couldn’t control because politicians run from the truth the way cockroaches run from the light. Georgiou, hounded for eight years was unflappable, no doubt due in part to his being a master practitioner of Pankration, the ancient Greek martial art which means to hold power over everything, and he did over them.

The other truth is that it was those Greek governments, especially the 2005-09 tenure of then-New Democracy leader and Premier Costas “The Invisible Man” Karamanlis which lied about the statistics and cooked the books.

Georgiou was the math detective who nailed them so they decided to go after him, a classic spin that didn’t work and was more transparent than even Donald Trump’s head.

Georgiou knew that and, finding cronies crawling up the wall trying to prevent him from revealing the truth, they just made up charges, including from former ELSTAT non-vertebrates who wanted to get him and finally found a Kangaroo Court that listened.

SYRIZA went after him because Prime Minister Alexis “The Great Reneger” Tsipras needed a bogeyman to blame for the country’s crisis, but none of The Walking Brain Dead remembered Georgiou’s work was essentially audited and verified by Eurostat, which has no stake in Greek politics. Colleagues from other countries supported him and were appalled by the fake trial where audience members who believed propaganda against Georgiou screamed for his head, vitriol that should have been directed at former Premiers George Papandreou, Antonis Samaras and now Tsipras, their real enemies.

The toothless ruling has also been challenged by international media, with the Financial Times citing a European statistics expert called as a defense witness who described the case as “an intimidating preset farce” with “open threatening behavior” in court.

According to an analysis in the Politico Europe weekly, “Georgiou has arguably become a scapegoat for politicians … trying to deflect responsibility for Greece’s fiscal problems.” Not arguably, definitely.
His lawyer, Giorgos Stefanakis, led his defense in court and mocked the pre-determined verdict from a cowardly court cowed by the protesters.

“It’s like being charged for a deadly traffic accident and being convicted for failing to renew your driver’s license … it is a resounding victory for Mr. Georgiou,” he said, adding that he advised his client to appeal the conviction at Greece’s Supreme Court.

Georgiou was quoted by the Financial Times as saying he was convicted of a misdemeanor count of breaching his duty for adhering to the “principle of professional independence as required by EU and Greek law.”

“… In Europe we do not put statistical results up for voting (by an entity’s board),” Georgiou, reached at his home in the US said. He had been in Alice in Cuckooland with a mock trial ending in the government and court yelling, “Off with his head,” or as Aris Hatzis, a noted professor at the University of Athens Law School put it to FT: “It’s Kafkaesque; a form of political persecution,” without end.

The German paper Handelsblatt said he was targeted because he refused to “fiddle” with the numbers, not because he had, or as Bugs Bunny said: “It don’t add up.”