Greece deceived even after rescuers moved in: ECB head

Greece continued to provide misleading economic data even after the ECB, European Union and IMF were trying to help, the head of the European Central Bank charged on Monday.

ECB head Mario Draghi said that available economic data on Greece was incomplete or incorrect at the time of the first rescue attempt in 2010, reacting to recent IMF criticism.

"Certainly, some decisions at the time had been taken on the basis of information that was either incomplete or erroneous or deceiving," Draghi told European lawmakers in Brussels.

"Certainly the reports about the structural strength of the Greek economy were not correct. The troika was constantly reassured by the authorities at that time that the economy was much stronger than in fact it was."

The International Monetary Fund -- one member of the 'troika' along with the ECB and European Commission -- last month published a critical report on Greece's first bailout, especially on the European Union's refusal to agree to an earlier restructuring of debt.

Pointing to the high risk of "contagion" at the time, Draghi said, "often these exercises are like reading yesterday's history with today's eyes, often they lack perspective".

"So there have been mistakes and I think ... it's good that they have been identified so that they may not be repeated in the future," Draghi said in comments to the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament that were streamed live online.

Draghi also praised the "extraordinary progress" Greece had made since.

"It's one of the countries that has changed most," he said, advising Athens to "persevere on this track, especially of structural reforms, now that you start seeing the first benefits."

Eurozone finance ministers gathered on Monday to decide whether to unlock billions of euros in fresh aid for Greece just after creditors signalled support for its reforms in a long-awaited audit.