Greek Journalist Held Over List of Swiss-Account Holders

Police in Greece arrested a Greek journalist who published the names of 2,000 Greeks with deposits in Swiss bank accounts.

Kostas Vaxevanis, editor of the Greek magazine Hot Doc, was arrested in Athens today, according to a message posted on his Twitter account at 11 a.m. local time. An arrest warrant was issued yesterday after the magazine published what’s been dubbed the “Lagarde list,” an electronic file given to Greece in 2010 by then-French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde of about 2,000 Greeks with Swiss accounts.

Vaxevanis was arrested for publishing citizens’ private information, a breach of Greek privacy law, a police spokesman said by telephone today. Private television station Mega TV reported that he was released and will appear in court tomorrow.

In a video message posted on the news website Pandora’s Box today, Vaxevanis said he published the list because of government inaction in following up on the names of potential tax evaders even as it prepares new austerity measures.

Former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Oct. 2 that he had received the list in August 2011 from Finance Ministry officials and deemed it couldn’t be legally used. He said he has since handed it over to the government, which passed it on to the country’s financial-crimes squad, SDOE.

George Papaconstantinou, who preceded Venizelos as finance minister, said he received the list from Lagarde.

The list has drawn criticism from both opposition parties as well as lawmakers within the governing coalition, with most comments tying the failure to track down possible tax evasion by those on the list to the government preparing new austerity measures to secure international aid.