- Kostas Vaxevanis, editor of Hot Docs, was giving a radio interview in Athens when officers stormed into the studio saying he had to go ‘to be arrested’
- Today, as he appeared in court, Greek daily Ta Nea reprinted the list across ten of its pages in possible act of defiance
- Vaxevanis faces up to two years in prison for what police say was the illegal publication of personal details without proof of any law breaking
- He says it is not him being put on trial but ‘freedom of the press’
- The list, given to Greece by France in 2010, contains names of 2,059 Greek account holders at HSBC, Switzerland, to be probed for possible tax evasion
By Matt Blake
PUBLISHED:09:11 EST, 29 October 2012| UPDATED:10:11 EST, 29 October 2012
A Greek magazine editor was arrested live on national radio yesterday for publishing the names of 2,000 ‘tax evaders’ from Greece’s business and political elite.
Kostas Vaxevanis was giving a radio interview in Athens when officers stormed into the studio saying he had to cut the segment short ‘to be arrested’.
Greek police swooped after his weekly journal Hot Doc released the names, all of which are alleged to have employed complex tax avoiding mechanisms through accounts with HSBC in Switzerland.
But in a further twist today – the same day Mr Vaxevanis was due to appear in court charged with violating data privacy laws – a separate publication, Ta Nea, reprinted the list across ten of its pages.
Led away: Kostas Vaxevanis was giving a radio interview in Athens when officers stormed into the studio saying he had to cut the segment short ‘to be arrested’
Vaxevanis faces up to two years in prison for what police say was the illegal publication of personal details without proof that any laws had actually been broken.
He immediately compared the officers to Nazi stormtroopers before sending another message in which he wrote: They’re entering my house with the prosecutor right now. They are arresting me, spread the word.’
He and his supporters claim a cover up by the Greek establishment which attempted to dampen allegations it had the names for two years but did nothing about them.
The list, given to Greece by French authorities in 2010, contains the names of 2,059 Greek account holders at HSBC in Switzerland to be probed for possible tax evasion.
The accounts are said to hold some 2 billion euros until 2007, a sum that riveted austerity-hit Greeks, angry at the privileges of politicians and an elite seen as having enriched themselves at the country’s expense.
It has been dubbed the ‘Lagarde List’ after Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund who was the French finance minister when the list was handed over.
Centre-left daily Ta Nea said that despite publishing the same list released by Hot Doc it was not leaping to any conclusions about ‘its content nor the connotations it evokes in a large part of the public.’
It did not say why it had decided to reprint the list and stressed there was no evidence linking any one on the list to tax evasion.
The magazine says the list, which includes well-known political and business figures, was sent to it anonymously and authorities have not confirmed if the list was authentic.
Vaxevanis wrote on his Twitter account: ‘Ta Nea is publishing the list today. Will they be prosecuted? A month ago it published a list of the tax returns of celebrities. Charges weren’t filed.
‘Today, it’s not Hot Doc that’s on trial but press freedom in Greece, and truth.’
It is the latest act of defiance against the Greek establishment in a society that is becoming increasingly frustrated with the government’s handling of a recession that has hit Greece harder than most.
Athens has seen hundreds of anti-austerity protests – many violent – over the past three years, since Greece revealed it had been misreporting key deficit figures and sank into an economic gloom so deep it has been likened to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The most recent was just last week when hundreds took to the streets to demonstrate against the government’s harsh austerity programme during a planned general strike that crippled the nation’s infrastructure.
The 24-hour shutdown closed down public services, stopped all rail and ferry services and grounded flights.
Flare-up: Athens has seen hundreds of anti-austerity protests – many violent – over the past three years, since Greece revealed it had been misreporting key deficit figures and sank into an economic gloom so deep it has been likened to the Great Depression of the 1930s
The country is clinging to solvency with the help of two massive international bailouts worth a total 240billion euros.
To secure them, it committed to drastic spending cuts, tax hikes and reforms, aimed to cure years of profligate government spending.
But while significantly reducing budget deficits, the measures accelerated a recession that after five years is closer to a depression.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2224806/Kostas-Vaxevanis-editor-Greek-magazine-Hot-Docs-arrested-publishing-names-2-000-tax-evaders.html#ixzz2AjSMG4e0 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook