European Commission defends Greek statistics chief


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The Independent Online

The European Commission has backed the embattled chief of Greece’s statistics agency over allegations that he inflated the country’s 2009 data – a move that exposed the country’s  financial crisis to the outside world.

The numbers are “reliable”, Emer Traynor, a spokeswoman for the EU commission that oversees the statistics of member states, said yesterday. “The compilation of the Greek data followed all the EU rules applicable that all member states are bound by,” Ms Traynor said.

Andreas Georgiou, director of Greece’s independent statistics agency, Elstat, is facing criminal charges along with two other officials for allegedly doctoring the 2009 budget deficit and debt. A former agency employee, Zoe Georganta, accused the head statistician in 2011 of manipulating the deficit to 15.4 per cent of GDP instead of 13.6 per cent. Ms Georganta said he had used a stricter calculation method to swell the numbers and subject the Greek people to harsher austerity measures. The accusations prompted an investigation by the country’s parliament in February 2012.

Mr Georgiou denies all charges. He was not immediately available for comment. In the past, Mr Georgiou had told The Independent the case was “nonsensical – it means prosecuting somebody for following the law”.