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Greek politician in Swiss bank account scandal

The Greek socialist party has kicked out former finance minister George Papaconstantinou. He is under suspicion of removing family names from an official list of tax evaders' with links to Swiss bank accounts.

There are calls for Papaconstantinou to be investigated for allegedly removing the names of his relatives from a list which Greek authorities are using to investigate possible tax evasion. Three of his cousins and their husbands were allegedly involved with two accounts in a Swiss HSBC bank branch.

A statement on Saturday confirming his ejection from the socialist PASOK party said there were "clear indications" that names of family members had been deleted from the list.

"Obviously, Mr Papaconstantinou no longer belongs to PASOK,'' it said, adding that "there is an obvious and huge issue of responsibility of Mr George Papaconstantinou."

Papaconstantinou has denied knowing which family members had appeared on the list, which he has also rejects altering.

It is alleged he was given the document in 2010 by France's then finance minister, Christine Lagarde. She is now head of the International Monetary Fund.

"I have in no way tampered with the evidence," he said. "If there are any accounts on the list concerning members of my wider family, I did not know this until today... I will not be turned into a scapegoat in this case."

Papaconstantinou helped design Greece's first austerity measures.

On Friday, the Greek government backed calls for a parliamentary investigation. Greece has so far failed to convict any prominent figures for tax evasion.

Costas Vaxevanis, a Greek journalist, was acquitted on Thursday of charges of violating personal privacy laws after he published the list of 2,059 names of prominent Greeks including several politicians, shipping magnates, doctors, lawyers, and housewives with Swiss bank accounts.

"The main problem in Greece is the people who govern it. It is a closed group, an elite, one part of which is composed of people from all the parties and the second connected directly or indirectly to business people," he told the Reuters news agency.

jm/jlw (Reuters, AFP)