A Greek investigative journalist who published the names of more than 2,000 wealthy Greeks with Swiss bank accounts appeared in court on Tuesday to stand trial again for violating privacy laws.
The unusually speedy arrest, trial and acquittal of Costas Vaxevanis last October for publishing the so-called “Lagarde List” drew international concern and captivated Greeks angry that successive governments failed to pursue those on the list while heaping austerity cuts on everyone else.
The magazine editor, who had called last year’s trial “targeted and vengeful” and an attempt to muzzle the press, was acquitted of the charges.
Although Greece has a double jeopardy law, the prosecutor successfully argued that he be tried again by a higher court, claiming to have new evidence and saying the verdict was legally flawed.
Vaxevanis was presenting his defense behind closed doors. A verdict could come as early as Tuesday and, if found guilty, he could be jailed for up to two years or face a fine.
The “Lagarde List”, with the names of 2,059 Greeks with HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland to be probed for possible tax evasion, was given to Greece by French authorities in 2010.
The saga of how the list was passed from one senior Greek official to the next and misplaced at one point without anyone apparently taking action riveted the country.
The list – named after IMF chief and then-finance minister Christine Lagarde – features dozens of prominent business figures including a handful of shipping tycoons, companies and two politicians. It also includes a painter, an actress and many listed as architects, doctors, lawyers, and housewives.
(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)