RSS president urges ‘scrupulously fair hearing’ for Greece’s chief statistician facing felony charges

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Karolos Papoulias
The Royal Statistical Society’s president John Pullinger has written to the president of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias (pictured), to urge that ‘a scrupulously fair hearing’ be given to Andreas Georgiou, the head of the Greek statistics agency, ELSTAT.

Georgiou is facing felony charges and has been accused of falsifying Greece’s 2009 fiscal data, along with two other ELSTAT employees. The former IMF statistician was appointed to ELSTAT in November 2010, a year after the start of Greece’s debt crisis. After he took over, the country’s 2009 budget deficit was revised up from 13.6 to 15 per cent of GDP.

In a statement issued earlier this month (13 February 2013) Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, set out its concern that ‘political debates surrounding judicial action taken against the head of the Greek statistical office (ELSTAT) and the calling into question of the validity of data which have repeatedly passed the stringent quality checks applied by Eurostat to ensure full compliance with European law seem to disregard commonly agreed European procedures.’

Walter Radermacher, director general of Eurostat, said in an earlier statement: ‘In this difficult situation, Mr Georgiou retains my full confidence.’

In his letter, John Pullinger wrote that the RSS has no reason to doubt Eurostat’s confidence in Mr Georgiou’s work and the statistics produced. ‘Furthermore,’ he added, ‘it will be vital that those working within the Greek statistical service can be confident that their work to deliver data of integrity can be done according to their professional duty and in line with the United Nations’ principles. They should be in no doubt that they do so free of any interference or pressure, implied or real. Therefore, we hope suitable reassurance will be provided to them.’

No date has been set for a trial as yet, and Georgiou has stated he will ‘continue to apply the law, despite the adversities’.

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