The family of Greece’s former Prime Minister George Papandreou Jr. has denied accusations that his mother is linked to a Swiss bank account holding some €550 million ($715 million).
According to reports in Greek media, Papandreou’s 89-year-old mother, Margaret, allegedly appears on the “Lagarde list” of wealthy Greeks who have stashed away huge amounts of money in Switzerland.
"Why such lies? Why such attacks? Perhaps because my family never served this country’s interest groups," Margaret responded to the allegations in a statement.
She dismissed the allegations as "lies and false accusations."
Margaret’s deceased husband, Andreas, also served as prime minister in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Financial Times reported that some 2,000 Greek hold accounts at HSBC’s Geneva office. Prosecutors have submitted the list to politicians in Athens.
George Papandreou, who resigned as prime minister in 2011 and remains in parliament, called the charges "rumors without facts" which are politically motivated. As PM, Papandreou himself criticized Greek tax evaders for exacerbating the country’s financial crisis.
"The publications ... are clearly targeting me and the policies I implemented against all manner of political and personal interests," he said in a statement.
Named for International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, the “Lagarde list” of Greek tax evaders has worsened the sentiments of ordinary Greeks crushed by high unemployment and severe cuts in government spending. The list was delivered to the Athens government by France when Lagarde served as the French finance minister.
If the allegations are true, Forex Live speculates, they will present an “absolute nightmare” for a Greek government already coping with violent anti-austerity protests. Indeed, the Papandreou family would face an uphill battle to explain how they could have accumulated such wealth.
Meanwhile, for ordinary Greeks, life keeps getting harder.
According to Eurostat, the European Union’s Statistical Agency, nearly one- third (31 percent) of the population are living near the poverty line and 15.2 percent are eking by on a small income.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.