Oft-Prosecuted former Greek Stats Chief Georgiou Wins Integrity Award

FILE - In this Thursday, July, 22, 2010 file photo former Greece's statistics chief Andreas Georgiou, stands outside the headquarters of the Statistics agency, in Athens. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

Greece’s former statistics chief Andreas Georgiou, repeatedly being prosecuted – he said persecuted – for allegedly fudging Greece’s books in 2009 to force the government to seek whate turned into three bailouts, has been honored by the International Statistical Institute (ISI).

The group, one of many to back his tenure at the ELSTAT statistics agency in Greece, commended him for “upholding of the highest professional standards” in producing the country’s statistics and “in the pursuit of integrity of statistical systems,” ignoring politics.

The awarding ceremony was held during a special meeting on National Statistical Offices’ Professional Independence: Threats and Responses ahead of the International Association for Official Statistics’ Conference in Paris this week, said Kathimerini.

“During his presidency at ELSTAT, Andreas Georgiou committed himself to ensuring that the production of all official statistics in Greece should be undertaken in strict conformity with international and European statistical principles and standards,” the ISI said in its press release.

“In doing so, he faced extraordinary obstacles and has been subjected to innumerable challenges and court proceedings. This special commendation acknowledges his competency and strength in the face of adversity, his commitment to the production of high quality and trustworthy official statistics and his advocacy for the improvement, integrity and independence of official statistics,” it added.

The commendation was presented to Georgiou by the ISI, the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), the American Statistical Association (ASA), the International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS), the Federation of European National Statistical Societies (FENStatS), the Societe Francaise de Statistique (SFdS).

In June, a Greek Supreme Court prosecutor called for his retrial after he had been acquitted and then convicted a year earlier for alleged breach of duty in a highly politicized case in which he said he’s being made a scapegoat for the country’s economic and austerity crisis.

Georgiou, recruited from the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF), one of the country’s creditors, has been defended by European, American and world statistics agency who said he’s being persecuted for refusing to falsify data and take political parties off the book for generations of wild overspending and runaway patronage.

He has been acquitted on some counts and had appealed against the lower court’s decision, which gave him a suspended two-year prison sentence. Earlier, another court had cleared him of the charges.
Georgiou was initially charged over the release of budget deficit data in 2010. He took over the statistical agency months after Greece had revised previously misreported budget deficit data and was spiraling into financial crisis.

Greece’s European bailout creditors have repeatedly defended Georgiou, arguing that his leadership was key to the country’s ability to provide reliable fiscal statistics but other than press releases have done nothing to help him nor make the government stop going after him.

Greece’s European bailout creditors have repeatedly defended Georgiou, arguing that his leadership was key to the country’s ability to provide reliable fiscal statistics.

“Improving governance and the independence of public institutions, including by ensuring adequate protection for officials – such as those in charge of statistical reports – is essential to increase confidence in public finances and ensure data integrity,” the IMF said.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule in coming months on the proposal by Efstathia Spyropoulou who gave no explanation why she’s continuing to pursue him.

Despite an international outcry he’s being unfairly prosecuted, a conviction against Georgiou was upheld by the criminal section of the Supreme Court, dismissing an appeal to overturn it.

A lower court had handed down a suspended sentence to Georgiou in August 2017, finding him guilty of not getting approval by the then board of ELSTAT before transmitting the 2009 deficit figures to Eurostat – which backed his reporting, as have US and international statistics agency who said he’s the victim of government witch hunts trying to deflect the real blame for the country’s economic crisis and need for international bailouts.

Georgiou would also face for the third time charges over accusations he falsified budget data to justify a first bailout of 110 billion euros ($129.6 billion) in 2010 when the former PASOK Socialists in power.

He has already been cleared twice in judgments by the Council of Appeals Court Judges but with no double jeopardy laws successive governments, now the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, keep coming after him.

He returned to the US where he now lives but has repeatedly declared his innocence and said he’s wrongfully being pursued.