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Society

Besieged Greek Ex-ELSTAT Chief Georgiou Gets Social Media Backing

September 22, 2020

Exonerated by the European Union and international accountant groups, the former head of Greece's statistics agency ELSTAT is still being chased by his own country over 2009 deficit figures the agency posted.

His critics said the books were cooked by Andreas Georgiou, who now lives in the United States, to support a case that Greece needed what turned into three international bailouts.

Greece did, getting three rescue packages totaling 320 billion euros to prop up an economy undercut by generations of wild government overspending and political patronage to get votes.

Now The Friends of Greece society has launched a new social media campaign in support of Georgiou, who has been dragged through the courts for almost a decade over his work at the Hellenic Statistical Agency, said Kathimerini.

The New Democracy government hasn't dropped the case after he was hunted vigorously by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA which essentially said the deficit was fake and designed to hurt the country without explaining why the bailouts were needed, nor why the Leftists signed one.

In a letter signed by founding member Ted Truman, the society asked social media users to join the campaign of support for Georgiou ahead of his latest of dozens of court cases, on Sept. 24.

The respected statistician has appealed an earlier ruling concerning a civil defamation suit but the cases against him just keep on coming with no explanation why since the bailouts were needed.

“The judicial persecution of Andreas Georgiou started on September 19, 2011, and is thus entering its tenth year. On that day, the Greek Prosecutor of Economic Crimes initiated an investigation to examine accusations that Mr. Georgiou and two senior managers of ELSTAT conspired to artificially inflate the 2009 government deficit figures,” Friends of Greece said in a statement.

“This saga of persecution continues. On September 24, a Greek court will hear Mr. Georgiou’s appeal against an earlier ruling in a civil case of slander. This case, like the others in the saga, is all ultimately about the integrity of Greece’s statistical processes. This is how it is viewed in the Greek public debate, in which Mr. Georgiou has become a hate figure and scapegoat for Greece’s systemic failings under governments of all parties,” it added.

Friends of Greece was founded by economist Paul Armington, sociologist Jan Dizard, and Edwin (Ted) Truman, Senior Fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for International Affairs.

It focuses on the integrity of governmental statistics in support of economic reform and economic and financial stability.

Georgiou has been cleared three time of charges that he falsified the 2009 budget data in order to justify Greece’s first international bailout but there's no double – or triple – jeopardy law in Greece and prosecutors can keep appealing.

Georgiou, who served as ELSTAT President from 2010-15, has persistently denied any wrongdoing and that he followed European Union rules in measuring the country’s deficit. 

The EU statistical agency Eurostat said his work was accurate and repeatedly opposed his prosecution and his defenders said successive Greek governments who brought the crisis wanted to blame someone else for it.

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