Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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The Lagarde list and the fall of Pasok

Gerard De Josep. Journalist

In 1974, when Greece left the dictatorship of the colonels (1967-1974), the legendary Andreas Papandreou founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), a leftist party built on the foundations of those social groups who had participated in the resistance.

With its motto "National Independence, Popular Sovereignty, Liberation and social structures of state", the social democratic formation gained 14% of the vote in the elections of that year. Only three years later, it collected 25% of the vote, and in 1981 embraced an absolute majority. With a landslide victory of 48%, the Greeks had chosen the option of "change" as the slogan of the campaign. It was then, when he became prime minister, that Papandreou first wore a tie.

With all these elements, there are many who have tried to interpret recent events as deja vu. The current leader of government, SYRIZA, acronym for the coalition of radical left, went from a residual 4% to 36% support in the polls in very short time, it knew how to display itself as the alternative, and watched as the mythical leftist party sunk beside them. In the last elections of January 25, 2015, Pasok got only 5% of the votes and George Papandreou, eldest son of the founder and former Socialist prime minister, did not even get into parliament with his new group, the Movement of Democratic Socialists (Kinima). Everything had started to smell musty and the people were eager for a breath of fresh air.

A long shadow of corruption scandals loomed over the political party, and began to spread under the leadership of Andreas Papandreou in the 90s, and which their successors have failed to stop. At the time of writing, Greece expects the state prosecutor to rule on the alleged crimes hanging over the former member of the Socialist Party Yorgos Papakonstantinu, who served for two years as finance minister in the George Papandreou government (2009-2011) and signed the first bailout with the European Union and International Monetary Fund. That, in part, made him responsible for the austerity measures that immediately began to ravage the country.

But Papakonstantinu what is not tried for his role in the onset of a crisis that has turned Greece into a "colony of Germany" in the words, not of some current ministers, rather previous ones sitting on the bench of the accused for having received in a copy of the CD containing the list Lagarde in 2010, a subset of Falciani list with the names of 2,026 Greeks with secret accounts in Switzerland, and having kept it in a drawer. From this list he also would have erased the names of his sister, his brother and the brother-in-law, but not on the other hand, of Margarita Papandreou, Yorgos' mother and wife of party founder Andreas Papandreou.

The Lagarde list

In early 2009, the French authorities had arrested the IT specialist of the London bank with headquarters in Geneva, Hervé Falciani, under a Swiss international arrest warrant. Falciani had copied data from the company that exposed customers from various countries of the European Union who had committed fraud. After a raid on his home in France, police found computer files with 130,000 potential tax evaders and decided to open an investigation.

A year later, the French intelligence service notified their Greek counterparts that many of those appearing on this list were of Hellenic nationality, and offered to send the list to help the government fight tax evasion, one of the country's biggest problems. It was then that the Greek intelligence chief contacted Papakonstantinu, who quickly agreed to meet with French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde, provided it was a discreet encounter. With the CD in hand, Papakonstantinu said in Parliament that the files were available to the tax police and asked them to initiate an investigation, but which never came to fruition.

At that time, the portfolio of Environment was occupied Konstantina Birbili, one of the best ministers that the country had known to date, say sources close to her. In fact, probably was too good and too fair, so she ended up consequently being fired. Papakonstantinu got the post and he was relieved the current party leader Evánguelos Venizelos, who made a copy of the CD contents on a USB data stick and also decided to forget about the content. When it seemed that it was the time to initiate the investigation, the original CD was lost. What a lucky break.

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