Berlin-am-Brussels’ real motives, and the odyssey of the Lagarde Tax-Dodgers List, are raising questions throughout the eurozone this afternoon. We could be about to witness the scandal of all scandals.
Christine Lagarde became head of the IMF in 2011. Before that – when she was the Minister of Finances for France – she illegally obtained a copy of 24,000 EU tax dodgers who’d deposited their ill-gotten gains at a branch of HSBC in Switzerland. The list, on a USB memory stick, was stolen from HSBC by a whistle-blowing employee.
Some time during the Autumn of 2010, France’s very poor answer to Carol Vorderman handed over the stick to Greek Finance Minister Papaconstantinou. It’s still unclear as to why she did this, but the chances are that she now regrets doing so. Either way, Papaconstantinou handed it to the Financial Crimes Unit (SDOE). And when Evangelos Venizelos became Finance Minister the following year, SDOE in turn gave him a copy.
Yes, surprise surprise….wherever there is graft, there is Venizelos. Evangelos the Large did nothing at all about the list. He claims now that he did nothing “because it had been obtained illegally”. And if you believe that, then you’d believe anything Lord Mandelson might say.
However, for reasons which are also unclear, Mr Venizelos suddenly remembered his list yesterday morning….and handed it over to Prime Minister Samaras.
The response of SDOE was almost immediate. Around 10.30 pm last night, John Sbokos – ex Secretary to the Directorate of Armament – was arrested by the Financial Crimes Unit. They did it in a hurry because somebody inside Pasok tipped Sbokos off about the handover, and SDOE in turn were tipped off that he was about to do a runner. Mr Sbokos was very close to Akis Tsohatzopoulos, the former Greek Defence Minister. He’s in prison because of his corrupt role in the ‘buy two subs just get one’ scandal.