Justice for Andreas Georgiou, Former Head of Greek Statistical Agency

Update posted by Maximilian Reisch On Dec 12, 2018

Dear friends,

we are happy to inform you about the publication of Andreas' essay on a new statistical system for the European Union within the Bruegel Essay and Lecture Series. Please find it here.

We are grateful for your interest in the case and a big thank you for supporting it,

Patrick & Max

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Update posted by Maximilian Reisch On Sep 21, 2018

Dear Friends,

We are very pleased to share the news that Andreas Georgiou was honored recently with a commendation from no fewer than six major statistical organizations (listed below). The commendation was “to acknowledge Andreas Georgiou‘s upholding of the highest professional standards in his public service in the pursuit of integrity of statistical systems”. The commendation mentions in particular “his competency and strength in the face of adversity, his commitment to the production of quality and trustworthiness of official statistics and his advocacy for the improvement, integrity and independence of official statistics.” The commendation summarizes Andreas’ work, and is also a succinct articulation on the many acquittals, annulments, and convictions that comprise the saga. The commendation is available here. The accompanying press release can be found here.

Organizations participating in the commendation as of Sept 18, 2018 were:

·The International Statistical Institute (ISI)

·The Royal Statistical Society (RSS)

·The American Statistical Association (ASA)

·The International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS)

·The Federation of European National Statistical Societies (FENStatS)

·The Société Française de Statistique (SFdS)

On a more sober note, Financial Times reporter Kerin Hope reviewed concerns about the rule of law in Greece following the appointment of Michalis Kalogerou as the new Syriza justice minister. He mentions the Georgiou case as one of many examples that worry observers. See the full article here (subscribers only).

Thanks, as always, for your interest in this case and a big thank you for supporting it. We will continue to provide updates on a periodic basis.

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Update posted by Patrick Armstrong On Jul 13, 2018

Dear Friends,

First of all a large thanks to all of you for bringing us over our goal of $40,000, which we expect to act as much needed legal support for Andreas. Nevertheless, almost more important than the financial success of the campaign, the attendant publicity has created positive support in favor of our cause. With close to 400 global contributors, we are part of a community who are determined to right a wrong.

We must remind you, that while we have won a battle, the campaign will continue. Unjust prosecutions against Andreas are ongoing, and as you may know, on June 8, Andreas was informed that the Greek Supreme Court decided to render final and irreversible his conviction for not submitting the 2009 deficit and debt statistics to approval to a vote.

The prosecutions of Andreas represent not only a disturbing injustice against Andreas, but also the Greek people, as these prosecutions undermine the confidence in the recovery of Greece.

We will keep the website alive and updated with news, so that we can collectively remain informed.

Very best wishes, and as they used to say ‘keep the faith’!

Patrick and Max

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Update posted by Patrick Armstrong On Jul 09, 2018

Dear friends of Justice for Andreas Georgiou,

please find the link to an interview of Andreas recently held with "Stats and Stories".

Thank you for your continued support,

Patrick and Max

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Update posted by Maximilian Reisch On Jun 15, 2018

On June 8, Andreas was informed that the Greek Supreme Court decided to render final and irreversible his conviction for not submitting the 2009 deficit and debt statistics to approval by a vote (this was judged to be a violation of duty, despite the fact that the European Statistics Code of Practice is very clear that statistics are not voted upon). This conviction makes final Andreas' conviction to 2 years in prison, which is suspended for two years unless he gets another conviction in the meantime. Moreover, there is no further recourse in the Greek justice system for this case. The next step would be to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

http://www.amstat.org/ASA/News/ASA-Denounces-Greek-Supreme-Court-Decision-to-Uphold-Double-Jeopardy-Conviction-of-Georgiou.aspx

Despite this discouraging news, we are very happy to report that the campaign has exceeded the original goal of $40K. We offer many thanks to the 393 of you who have so generously expressed your support. These funds, and all additional monies collected before the campaign closes, will be very helpful in the next phase of effort.

We are very grateful and encourage everyone to continue to spread the word,

Patrick and Max

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Update posted by Maximilian Reisch On Jun 08, 2018

Dear Friends of Justice for Andreas Georgiou,

Greece is employing the statistical methodology and metrics implemented by Andreas to request funds, while at the same time prosecuting him for the same.

It is a staggering contradiction that Andreas Georgiou is repeatedly prosecuted for the methodology of the 2009 government deficit and debt statistics and for the processes used for their production despite the fact that the methodology used by Georgiou and his ELSTAT colleagues is the one being used today by Greece in all its internal and external official business and is the basis on which hundreds of billions of euro in EU disbursements to Greece are taking place since 2011. It is also a stunning contradiction that Greece is using exactly this statistical methodology today to ask its Eurozone partners (and thus Eurozone taxpayers) for massive debt relief. Finally, it is also an incredible contradiction that Greece is aiming to access the international bond markets in the period ahead based on borrowing needs calculated with that very same methodology.

As outlined recently by Tony Barber in the Financial Times, controversial legal actions like the prosecution of Andreas undermine the confidence in the recovery of Greece. Our sincere gratitude to all that have contributed to date and support not only Andreas, but also raise awareness about the severe damage illegitimate cases like the one against Andreas are inflicting on Greece. We encourage everyone to continue to spread the word and raise awareness of Andreas’s case—whether it be the general injustice of the prosecutions, the newest developments, and/or the crowdfunding site—on social media using the hashtag, #AndreasGeorgiou

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Update posted by Maximilian Reisch On May 31, 2018

Dear Friends of Justice for Andreas Georgiou,

On Tuesday May 29, 2018, Andreas participated in a meeting of the Financial Assistance Working Group of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. Andreas was invited to participate in that public meeting in order to have an exchange of views regarding "the latest developments on the investigations concerning official statistics in Greece". A similar meeting had taken place in November 2016.

Members of FAWG expressed their sympathy and concern about the ongoing prosecutions for about 7 years now and the wide implications of the prosecutions. It is to be seen if and what steps they may take.

Andreas made the following opening remarks to FAWG on Tuesday:

Honorable Chair, Honorable Members,
Thank you for the invitation to discuss here with you today. I would like to
express my gratitude for the concern many of you have expressed regarding
the prosecutions that I and my former staff have experienced over the past
seven years for adhering to EU rules and standards.
The main points I would like to make today are the following:
1. The prosecutions are continuing despite, all the evidence and proof
provided in court and despite even logic
2. EU institutions are financing Greece and considering debt relief for it
with statistics for which the Supreme Court of Greece has repeatedly said
there are grounds to believe they were manipulated and misreported.
This situation raises fundamental governance issues for the EU
3. It would be logical to expect that the ongoing prosecutions in Greece will
create even more incentives in Greece, and potentially other EU Member
States, to misreport European statistics when doing so is deemed
politically convenient
4. The Greek legal framework must be strengthened to protect from
prosecution official statisticians who produce European statistics
according to EU rules
5. Unless the prosecutions stop, the EU institutions and stakeholders will
increasingly bear responsibility for these prosecutions as well as for
any misreported statistics that may arise as a consequence of the
prosecutions
I am not happy to report all this. But Greece—which I love dearly—will leave
its troubles behind and prosper only if there is a firm commitment to credible
official statistics. And this commitment will not be there—irrespective of
anything that may be declared or signed—as long as the relentless prosecution
of statisticians who followed European statistical law and statistical principles
continues.
During my five years as President of the National Statistical Institute of
Greece, that institution was effectively rebuilt and European statistics in
Greece were produced according to the Law and fully applying the statistical
principles in the European Statistics Code of Practice: professional
independence, impartiality and objectivity, commitment to quality and other
principles. This provided indispensable support to the efforts to achieve
economic stability, reform and renewed prosperity in Greece and the EU.
As a result of ELSTAT’s actions during my term, the reliability of the official
statistics of Greece was finally established. For 10 consecutive semiannual
publications during November 2010 – April 2015, Greece’s deficit and debt statistics received no reservations by Eurostat. I should note that before
November 2010 there were for many years nearly continuous reservations
formally expressed by Eurostat and direct interventions by Eurostat to correct
misreported statistics.
And yet these same deficit and debt statistics—so central to Greece’s future—
that consistently received no reservation in the period 2010-2015 are being
challenged within Greece with respect both to their accuracy and to the
processes with which they were produced. More pointedly, I and others have
been subjected to an onslaught of criminal prosecutions and civil cases for
nearly seven years now. These include among others:
1. Criminal charges against me and two senior managers of ELSTAT for
the revision of the 2009 deficit and alleged damage to Greece of 171
billion euro. A conviction carries potential life imprisonment. The Greek
Supreme Court recently annulled again my acquittal by the Appeals
Court Council in this case. This is the second time the Supreme Court
has annulled the acquittal decision of the Appeals Court Council. As a
result, the case against me and my two co-accused former staff will have
to be considered for a third time by the Appeals Court Council in closed
trial—notably under a different composition of the Council—to decide
yet one more time whether to subject me and my former colleagues to an
open trial. This means another 1-2 years of legal procedures without
including the time needed for any potential open trial that may come at
the end if there is no acquittal. 2. Criminal charges against me for alleged violation of duty.
Following three acquittal proposals by investigating judges and prosecutors in
2013, 2014 and 2015, that were rejected, I was finally tried in open trial
in December 2016 and acquitted unanimously by a three member First
Instance criminal court, with the concurring proposal of the prosecutor.
Ten days later the verdict was annulled by another prosecutor, without
even having seen the written decision and rationale of the acquitting
court. I was subsequently subjected to a double jeopardy trial by the
Appeals Court and was found guilty of violating my duty for not
submitting the 2009 deficit figures to the approval by vote of the then
existing board of ELSTAT. And this was despite the fact that the
European Statistics Code of Practice is crystal clear that the sole person
responsible for statistical production and dissemination decisions in the
head of the statistical authority—we do not vote on the statistical figures
in Europe! I have requested the Supreme Court to annul my conviction—
which carries a 2 year in jail sentence, suspended for three years, unless
I get another conviction. The decision of the Supreme Court is pending.
3. A criminal investigation that was launched on the 1st of September 2016
repeats the same accusations about the 2009 deficit as the felony case I
mentioned above–but this also levies accusations against Eurostat
leadership and staff as well as IMF staff.
4. A charge of criminal slander, for which I was convicted in June 2016 to
12 months in prison for “simple slander”—a Greek legal category, which
effectively means that what I said was true but I should not have said it.
That suit has ended, but only because the statute of limitations had expired.
However, a companion civil suit against me will continue. The
civil suit went to trial in October 2016 and I was convicted to pay
damages and to publish with my name and at my own expense a public
rectification in the Greek newspaper Kathimerini. I have appealed the
decision to the Appeals Court and the case will be heard on October 4,
2018.
All these prosecutions are clearly serving the interests of various political
groups that have a keen interest in keeping alive their perverse narratives about
the sources and responsibilities for the Greek crisis, irrespective of the costs to
Greece and beyond.
And these prosecutions are taking place despite the fact that:
1. The methodology used in the calculation of the 2009 fiscal deficit is the
one being used today by Greece. It is the basis on which all
disbursements of EU Member State and IMF funds to Greece have taken
place since 2011
2. Any post-program surveillance by the Commission, the ECB and the
IMF, to be effective, will have to be based on that same methodology
3. The corresponding government debt sustainability computations are the
ones currently used by Greece to ask its Eurozone partners for debt relief,
and the European stakeholders and the IMF are considering that request
based on that statistical methodology, and
4. Any accessing of the markets by Greece in the months and years ahead
will take place on the basis of borrowing needs calculated with that
methodology, which is being challenged by the courts. It is an overt contradiction
and a serious risk to the legitimacy of European
institutions and other EU and international stakeholders to work with an
economic adjustment cum financial assistance program whose fundamental
data are repeatedly challenged by the highest Greek Court itself as manipulated
and misreported. How is it possible to ignore the decisions of the Greek
Supreme Court? The implications for EU governance and accountability in the
use of EU taxpayer resources are self-evident.
It is also self-evident that the perverse incentives for official statisticians in
Greece (and beyond) created by the prosecution of those who followed EU
rules will sooner or later lead to a reemergence of fraud and misreporting of
European statistics as in the pre-2010 years. This risks serious consequences
for the EU as well as Greece. The incentives created here are poisonous.
Would the responsibility for allowing such incentives to arise burden only the
Greek State or also EU institutions and other EU stakeholders that are willing
to live for years with this situation, which gives rise to these incentives?
There is an urgent need to protect Greek official statistics production, by
legally shielding Greek official statisticians from prosecution for their
European statistics and the processes they used to produce them, when these
products and processes have been validated by the competent EU institution as
being consistent with EU regulations and statistical principles. There is a need
for a legal provision to be adopted to this effect, which will cover past, present
and future official statisticians, in an effort to reduce the already heavy damage
inflicted on the incentive structures of Greek official statisticians from the
relentless prosecution of those that followed EU rules. The seven-year old prosecutions
in Greece against European statistics compiled according to EU law and statistical
principles have enormous and wide-ranging implications for Greece, the EU and the
world community. Such prosecutions do not belong in the democratic EU and they damage the EU.
The responsibility for the prosecutions and their implications also increasingly lies
with the EU.
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Update posted by Maximilian Reisch On May 18, 2018

Dear Friends of Justice for Andreas Georgiou,

we heard the discouraging news on Monday that the Greek supreme court has decided for a second time to annul the acquittal of Andreas on the charges of complicity against the state, meaning that he now faces triple jeopardy on these charges.

Here is the WSJ article on the news and that of Significance magazine. The ASA Board decried the decision in this statement.

Our sincere gratitude to all that have contributed to date and support Andreas with the extensive legal fees. We encourage everyone to continue to spread the word and raise awareness of Andreas’s case—whether it be the general injustice of the prosecutions, the newest developments, and/or the crowdfunding site—on social media using the hashtag, #AndreasGeorgiou


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Update posted by Maximilian Reisch On Apr 13, 2018

Dear Friends of Justice for Andreas Georgiou,

Today we extended the Campaign through to 1 June 2018.

While we hope this extension will allow us to close the remaining gap towards our goal, we believe the existence of the Campaign serves purposes beyond the funding need. Specifically, we believe it demonstrates to the Greek Authorities the breadth and depth of support that Andreas has in place.

We are very grateful for the contributions and the overwhelming support so far. We encourage everyone to continue to spread the word and are excited to launch this second round of the campaign.

Patrick and Max

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Update posted by Maximilian Reisch On Mar 26, 2018

Dear Friends of Justice for Andreas Georgiou,

As for the legal cases against Andreas, on March 16th the Deputy Prosecutor of the Supreme Court proposed to the Criminal Section of the Supreme Court to accept Andreas’s request for annulment of his conviction for violation of duty for not putting up the deficit figures for a vote. But we still await a response from the Supreme Court on the proposal. Please see the following link: http://www.ekathimerini.com/226919/article/ekathimerini/news/prosecutor-calls-for-former-elstat-chief-to-be-cleared

Meanwhile, there remain four other cases open against Andreas. So our work is far from over. We are grateful for all that have contributed until now and we encourage everyone to further spread the word.

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