ATHENS – Prosecuted repeatedly and, he said, persecuted, the former head of Greece’s statistics agency, Andreas Georgiou, was acquitted for a third time by the Council of Appeals on charges of falsifying the country’s 2009 data to justify a first international bailout.
He headed ELSTAT from 2010-15 and said successive governments, including the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, have tried to make him a scapegoat for the country’s economic crisis.
Georgiou, who now lives in the United States and had been an official at the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary, one of Greece’s creditor, kept saying he was innocent and had the backing of the European Union statistics agency Eurostat and also international accounting agencies, even being rewarded for his integrity.
That wasn’t enough for served for Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou who had twice revoked his acquittal as there’s no double jeopardy law in Greece and defendants can be kept taken to trial by prosecutors in search of a conviction.
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 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.
“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.