Charges claim Greek statistics chief inflated debt crisis

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GREECE’S statistics chief will face criminal charges over claims he artificially inflated budget deficit figures to make the debt crisis appear worse than it was.

Andreas Georgiou has previously denied wrongdoing and the European Union’s own ­Eurostat agency has defended him, saying the deficit was calculated in line with its standards.

However, an economic crimes prosecutor has recommended charges be filed against Georgiou and two other employees of the Greek agency, called Elstat, after finding evidence they falsified 2009 fiscal data, an official said.

The case stems from allegations by a sacked Elstat employee that Georgiou inflated the deficit numbers as part of a German-led plot to justify harsh austerity measures to accompany an EU bailout.

“The request concerns breach of duty and the falsification of fiscal data,” the official said.

Georgiou, 52, a veteran International Monetary Fund (IMF) statistician and marital arts teacher, was not available for comment.

The case reopens last year’s political row on the domestic front over whether wrong fiscal data caused a loss of confidence in Greek debt in late 2009, before Georgiou was brought in to sort out Elstat, forcing Athens to seek an EU-IMF bailout that has swollen to €240 billion (£201bn) – the biggest sovereign rescue in history.