The case against me and my magazine, Hot Doc, for publishing a list of alleged tax evaders is a symptom of Greece’s corruption
“The more laws a country has, the more corrupt it is,” the Roman historian Tacitus used to say. Greece has quite a few laws. So many, in fact, that corruption can feel quite safe. An exclusive club of powerful people engages in illegal practices, then pushes through necessary laws to legalise these practices, granting itself an amnesty, and in the end, there are no media to uncover what really happened.
As I write, the adventures of an independent magazine in Greece, Hot Doc, which I edit, are being discussed worldwide. Our publication of a list of alleged Swiss bank account holders, and my subsequent arrest, has provoked a storm. But not in the Greek media. A few months ago, Reuters and the British press uncovered scandals involving Greek banks. The Greek media didn’t write anything then either. The space that should have been granted to reports about these scandals was occupied by paid advertisements sponsored by the very people who caused the Greek banks to go under.
The “Lagarde” case in Greece is merely an extreme expression of this situation. In 2010, Lagarde handed to the then minister of finance, George Papaconstantinou, a list of Greeks who held bank accounts abroad. Some of this was “black money” – money that may not have been taxed or needed to be laundered. In a convuloted train of events, Papaconstinou admitted to losing the original data, but was able to pass another copy to his successor Evangelos Venizelos, who eventually admitted to having held it but has failed to produce it so far. The list has still never been properly investigated.....