Former Greek statistics chief continues battle to defend debt disaster figures – POLITICO

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ATHENS — Greece’s former statistics boss Andreas Georgiou is continuous his greater than decade-long battle to clear his identify after Athens accused him of inflating fiscal figures through the debt disaster and thereby worsening the nation’s monetary woes.

On Monday, Greece’s Supreme Court docket will hear Georgiou’s enchantment towards a civil conviction for “easy slander” concerning remarks he made defending his calculations. It’s considered one of a number of authorized circumstances Georgiou has fought since officers in Athens first questioned his figures and blamed them for the nation being pressured to simply accept bigger loans and harsher bailout phrases from its collectors.

Georgiou, who now lives within the U.S., has garnered widespread assist from worldwide economist and statistician teams, which argue he’s been used as a scapegoat by Greece’s political class, which refuses to acknowledge that the disaster was the consequence of years of fiscal profligacy.  

Observers additionally argue the case is a take a look at of the Greek judicial system and whether or not it will probably keep independence from politics.

“Georgiou did his obligation like most different public servants around the globe. He has been prosecuted and persecuted for his service to his nation,” mentioned Ted Truman, a senior fellow on the Mossavar-Rahmani Middle for Enterprise and Authorities on the Harvard Kennedy College. “Within the curiosity of their nation, the Greek authorities should cease the ‘Huge Lie’ and the Greek judicial system ought to play its acceptable function on this course of.”

Numbers recreation

Georgiou, a former Worldwide Financial Fund official, was appointed president of the Greek statistics service, Elstat, in August 2010 after it emerged that the Greek authorities had underreported debt ranges and deficits, prompting the creation of the EU-IMF monetary bailout program.

However Georgiou’s calculations that the nation’s deficit was even increased than beforehand estimated, at 15.4 p.c of GDP, despatched shockwaves via the nation.

His findings have been validated by Eurostat, the EU’s official statistics workplace, however he confronted home resistance for adopting EU statistical requirements.

Georgiou was hit with a collection of lawsuits launched by Elstat board members, who have been supported both straight or not directly by successive Greek governments and politicians in Athens. 

He was accused of artificially inflating the deficit figures as a part of a plot to deliver extreme austerity to Greece, however these expenses introduced by Greek prosecutors have been dismissed a number of occasions by completely different courts and this case was formally closed in 2019.

Georgiou was additionally charged with dereliction of obligation, primarily for refusing to permit members of Elstat’s board to approve the revised deficit numbers earlier than sending them to Eurostat. Although initially acquitted on this cost in 2016, the case was reopened and he was convicted in 2017 following a profitable enchantment by prosecutors, receiving a two-year suspended jail sentence.

He then requested one other trial and for key questions within the case to be delivered to the Court docket of Justice of the European Union, which Athens rejected. The statistician is now awaiting a ruling from the European Court docket of Human Rights, anticipated quickly, on whether or not his rights have been violated on this case.

Monday’s enchantment issues a civil defamation case introduced by Georgiou’s predecessor as statistics chief, who accused Georgiou of defamation for saying his personal figures had been repeatedly validated and the integrity of prior experiences had been questioned. 

EU investigations have certainly discovered that Greece systematically understated public spending and supplied false information to Eurostat within the 2000s. However beneath Greek regulation, an individual should still be held responsible for “easy slander” if their statements have been true and damage the plaintiff’s popularity.

Georgiou was ordered to pay his predecessor €10,000 in compensation plus curiosity since 2014, in addition to the complainant’s authorized bills. The court docket mentioned he should additionally publish the textual content from the court docket ruling as a public apology in a Greek newspaper.

Georgiou has all the time defended his statistics and argued the top of Elstat has sole duty for fiscal figures. He’s been supported by the heads of nationwide statistics companies around the globe and final month, statisticians held a rally in his favor exterior the Greek Embassy in Washington.

Truman from the Mossavar-Rahmani Middle mentioned there are a number of essential rules at stake in Georgiou’s authorized circumstances.

“First is the integrity of the Greek statistical system that Georgiou reformed,” he mentioned. “Then is respect for and the integrity of official statistics and statisticians around the globe, demonstration that the Greek judicial system is now not dominated by partisan politics, and to compensate for the harm that has been performed to Georgiou’s popularity and private life.”

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