Andreas V Georgiou Legal Defence Fund
We the undersigned, as former colleagues of Andreas Georgiou the former President of ELSTAT (the Greek Statistical Authority), invite you to contribute to the Andreas V Georgiou Legal Defence Fund. We have established this fund to help Andreas and two of his former ELSTAT colleagues to meet the legal costs of the court proceedings pursued against them over the past four to five years.
We have followed the developments in Greece very closely and are strongly of the view that the prolonged court proceedings arise solely from a misguided resistance on the part of many political and other interest groups to the insistence of Andreas on adhering to European Union statistical regulations, the European statistics Code of Practice, and other international statistical principles and best practice over the period 2010-2015. We consider it to be particularly odious that he and his colleagues must fund the cost of their legal defence from their own resources without any indemnity from his former employer and have no expectation of re-imbursement, even if all charges are dismissed. These costs are already approaching €20,000 and can be expected to rise further.
We are acutely aware that national and international statistical institutions are severely constrained in regard to the support they can provide in situations such as this – and this is absolutely the case in regard to providing any funds or other material support. Accordingly, we have decided to sponsor this initiative to generate moral support and resources for Andreas Georgiou and his colleagues in defending the actions against them. We are therefore appealing to all current and former colleagues of Andreas, and indeed all within the wider statistical community and beyond who value the production of high quality official statistics in a professionally independent manner, to indicate their support by contributing to the Legal Defence Fund on a personal basis. Donations may be made on a named or anonymous basis.
More background information can be found below.
We welcome the support of the ISI and IAOS in facilitating this initiative.
|Hallgrimur Snorrason* – former DG Statistics Iceland and Consultant to ELSTAT 2010-2012|
|Gerry O’Hanlon* – former DG CSO Ireland and Chairman of Good Practice Advisory Committee 2013-2014 (Greek Statistical System)|
|Ada van Krimpen* – Director ISI Permanent Office|
|Heli Jeskanen-Sundstrom – former DG Statistics Finland and Member of Good Practice Advisory Committee 2013-2014 (Greek Statistical System)|
|Peter Hackl – former DG Statistics Austria and Member of Good Practice Advisory Committee 2013-2014 (Greek Statistical System)|
|Jan Plovsing – former DG Statistics Denmark and nominated Member of Good Practice Advisory Committee (Greek Statistical System)|
|Richard Alldritt – former Head of Assessment UK Statistical Authority and Chairman of Greek Statistics Peer Review team|
|Jaume Garcia – former President of INE Spain and Member of Greek Statistics Peer Review Team|
|Marie Bohata – former Deputy DG of Eurostat with special responsibility for European statistics Code of Practice|
|Dennis Trewin – former Australian Statistician and former President of ISI and Chairman of ISI Ethics Committee|
|Stephen Penneck – former DG UK ONS and President of IAOS and current Chairman of ISI Ethics Committee|
* Member of Organising Committee
A number of payment options are available to make a donation on a safe and secure basis through the World of Crowd Funding (WCF) website. The two principal methods are: A using PayPal to pay via credit card; and B making an electronic bank transfer from your bank account into a designated WCF bank account.
A: to use this option you need to be registered with PayPal and the payment is acknowledged immediately. If you are not registered you are prompted to register with Paypal, which can be done very quickly as it only requires a valid email address and a credit card account. Once you have activated your PayPal account (which is straightforward and immediate) you can make your donation. The advantage of this method is that you do not have to disclose your credit card details to WCF – instead, everything is handled through the very secure PayPal system.
B: if you choose this option the bank account details of a designated WCF bank account is emailed to you together with a reference number. You can then donate safely by making an electronic transfer from your bank account into the designated WCF account quoting the reference number. This payment may take around two working days to clear through the banking system.
When you make a donation WCF will issue you with a username and password that will enable you to view the status of your donation.
Andreas Georgiou took up his position as President of newly established ELSTAT (the Greek Statistical Authority) in August 2010, having been appointed in accordance with the Hellenic Statistical Law (no. 3832 of 9 March 2010). The compilation of official statistics in Greece had been for a number of years the subject of serious controversies regarding their accuracy and freedom from political influence. These issues principally related to the government debt and deficit figures reported to Eurostat, as part of the EU Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP). The deficit figures for 2009 were already problematic prior to his arrival and the new President of ELSTAT addressed the outstanding methodological issues as a matter of the highest priority and ultimately submitted a revised estimate to Eurostat in October 2010. Following a rigorous examination of the revised figures, and the methodology underpinning them, Eurostat lifted all reservations on the Greek figures – something it has continued to do in respect of all subsequent annual EDP submissions over the following five years.
The new Board of ELSTAT (the “Collective Body”), which was also set up in the middle of 2010, objected to the figures being submitted to Eurostat without its prior approval, i.e. it was maintained that the Board should have had the opportunity to “vote” on the figures. The President refuted this on the grounds that the Statistical Law required that the production and dissemination of statistics must be undertaken in strict compliance with the European Statistics Code of Practice. Specifically, Indicator 1.4 of the Code states that the Head of the National Statistical Institute (in this case the President of ELSTAT) should have “sole responsibility for deciding on statistical methods, standards and procedures, and on the content and timing of statistical releases”. Following other difficulties, the Board was ultimately abolished by the Greek Government in 2011.
Despite the abolition of the Board, a number of members continued to make public accusations against the ELSTAT President and two other senior ELSTAT managers claiming that they had conspired among themselves, and with international agencies (i.e. Eurostat and the IMF), to artificially inflate the deficit figures in order to justify the bailout programme and the imposition of unfair austerity measures on the Greek population. These accusations quickly resonated with wider political disputes and increasing public sentiment against the austerity measures. The extent of the public controversy that took hold in 2011 was such that the Prosecutor of Economic Crimes, on his own initiative, launched an investigation in September 2011, which commenced the court proceedings that continue to this day almost four and a half years later. Mr Georgiou retired as President of ELSTAT at the beginning of August 2015, having completed his five year term of office. However, the court cases are continuing against him, which he must now face as a private citizen.
The salient points of the evolution of the court proceedings are:
About the Fund
The Andreas V. Georgiou Legal Defence Fund will be supervised by the Organising Committee. The amounts received will be fully used for meeting the legal costs of Andreas Georgiou and his two former colleagues. Any surplus will be given to the ISI for use, at the discretion of the Executive Committee, in the promotion of statistics.
Financial donations can be made until 20 June 2016.
A financial report shall be prepared by the Organising Committee, in consultation with the Group of Sponsors, and will be made publicly available through the ISI website on completion of the project.