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Greek journo held over Swiss data leak: police

AFP · 29 Oct 2012, 10:34

Published: 29 Oct 2012 10:34 GMT+01:00

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Police said journalist Kostas Vaxevanis had published names from the controversial list of HSBC account holders, which was originally leaked by a HSBC employee and then passed to Greece in 2010 by France's then finance minister Christine Lagarde.

The mystery-shrouded list has become a subject of intense discussion in Greece in recent months, as Greek officials have claimed the original list has gone missing even as some citizens have clamoured for the government to use it to crack down on potential tax cheats.

Vaxevanis reportedly published more than 2,000 names from the list in his Hot Doc magazine, but not the account balances associated with them.

Police did not officially announce the charge against him, but local media reported he had been arrested for breach of privacy.

Greek social media had been buzzing with comments after the police announced in a statement late Saturday that "upon the order of the Athens public prosecutor's office" an investigation to locate and arrest Vaxevanis was under way.

"Instead of arresting thieves and ministers breaking the law they want to arrest the truth," Vaxevanis commented on his Twitter account late on Saturday.

The first recipient of the data, Greece's then finance minister George Papaconstantinou, told parliament on Wednesday that he did not know what had happened to the original version of the so-called "Lagarde list".

On Wednesday, current Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said he had asked France to re-send the list.

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Greek officials have long maintained that the information was illegally obtained and cannot be used in the battle against tax evasion. Deputy Finance Minister George Mavraganis recently called the list "industrial espionage".

But mounting anger against a new round of harsh austerity cuts imposed on Greece by its international creditors has put pressure on the government to look for the list and use it to crack down on potential tax dodgers.

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