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<nettime> Yanis Varoufakis: Greek Banksters in Action
nettime's_roving_reporter on Sun, 21 Apr 2013 21:53:31 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Yanis Varoufakis: Greek Banksters in Action


< http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2013/04/19/greek-banksters-in-action-on-the-latest-twist-in-the-story-of-mafia-style-terror-spreading-through-the-greek-polity/ >

Greek Banksters in Action: On the latest twist in the story of
mafia-style terror spreading through the Greek polity

   19 Apr

   Last November I posted a piece entitled A Small Victory for Press
   Freedom in Greece's Struggle against Cleptocracy. That story concerned
   the courageous decision of Kostas Vaxevanis, one of Greece's few,
   valiant investigative reporters, to publish the so-called Lagarde List;
   the list of Swiss bank account holders that Greece's political class
   did its utmost to keep hidden, to pretend that either it never existed
   or that it had been `misplaced'. Since then, Vaxevanis has been
   arrested by Special Branch officers, was tried in the Greek Courts, was
   acquitted triumphantly, and, more recently, awarded one of
   international journalism's top awards.

   In an earlier piece, last July, (entitled Bankruptocracy in the
   Greek Sector of Bailoutistan) I had drawn my readers' attention to the
   remarkable revelations of Reuters' Stephen Grey regarding the ponzi
   scheme put together by Greek bankers for the purposes of usurping
   Europe's bank recapitalisation rules, pretending that they managed to
   draw private capital into their insolvent banks which never really
   existed. My piece castigated the Greek media for maintaining a veil of
   silence on these corrupt and criminal practices, while highlighting the
   troika's curious lack of interest in the shenanigans of bankers who are
   receiving billions of European taxpayers' money (in the process of the
   so-called `recapitalisation' process).

   Today's post links these two stories together in a manner that you,
   dear reader, will find startling, worrying, enraging, disconcerting. It
   comprises, mainly, the summary of a letter that Kostas Vaxevanis sent
   to a London based journalist last week (the translation and summarising
   from the Greek original is mine). With this letter Vaxevanis sought
   support, advice and an opportunity of spreading the news of the dire
   situation faced by Greeks (citizens and journalists) who refuse to keep
   silent in the face of deep seated, criminal corruption. I urge you to
   read on.

   "In May 2012, I investigated the functioning of Greek banks, with
   special emphasis on a certain Greek Bank (The Bank henceforth) and its
   Chairman (The Chairman). I found that The Chairman's family members
   were the secret owners of a number of offshore companies that would
   receive loans from the bank without any real collateral. These loans
   would then: (a) be written off as unserviceable, or (b) be used to buy
   office space that would immediately be resold to other parties which
   would then lease them to The Bank or sell them to The Bank at inflated
   prices. In addition, other offshore companies were used by The Chairman
   to borrow substantial amounts from two other Greek banks, again with no
   collateral, for the purposes of buying shares The Bank (thus helping
   the bank demonstrate its capacity to draw in private capital). Since
   then the owner of one of these two other banks has been imprisoned (on
   different charges) while the second bank involved has played a central
   role in bringing down the Cypriot banking system (after its merger with
   one of the island's now collapsed banks and the transfer of its
   headquarters from Greece to Cyprus).

   After the publication of these two investigative pieces, photographs of
   Stephen Grey (the Reuters investigative reporter who broke a part of
   this story to an international audience), were published in various
   websites with the caption: "The man who came to destroy Greece". Worse
   still, the same blogs circulated a `document' which `showed' that I was
   on the payroll of the Greek state's intelligence services. I managed to
   defuse this campaign of defamation by writing extensively about it in
   the press.

   On 11^th September 2012, late at night, a group of 4 or 5 people staked
   out my home. It was only accidentally that I avoided being ambushed (my
   motorcycle had a flat tire and I thus returned home in a friend's car).
   Upon noticing the stalkers I called the police and asked them to come
   quietly. The police arrived noisily and went to a nearby house first,
   thus giving the men plenty of time to make their escape. For days, the
   police refused to investigate properly or to call eyewitnesses to make
   a statement (later, after I published the story, they did). Since then,
   I have been denied police protection (unlike most other journalists)
   and have had to resort to private security.

   Soon after the failed ambush, a woman visited my office insisting that
   I should see her to discuss "the bankers' designs" on me. I decided to
   meet with her. She was a frightened woman who claimed to be in grave
   personal danger. She said that she had been, and was, part of a group
   comprising former agents and salaried members of the Greek intelligence
   services, connected to business interests who worked on, at first,
   wrecking my public image and, later on, planning my physical demise.
   She added that it was her who, following specific orders, had forged
   the document `proving' that I was on the payroll of the secret service
   - a document which her group then circulated to the various blogs that
   used it.

   According to her testimony to me, a group stationed in Skopja was
   engaged to "see me off". Part of the same plot concerned the defamation
   of another woman, a former bank manager with The Bank, who had been
   fired on false charges of embezzlement because, in truth, she possessed
   damning evidence concerning The Chairman's family's activities. Their
   plan, vis-a-vis this former bank manager was to plant narcotics in a
   restaurant that she owned on the island of Zakynthos and to orchestrate
   a very public arrest so that, in the future, if she ever revealed her
   evidence against The Chairman's family, the press could dismiss her as
   a `drug dealer'. To prove her story, my interlocutor handed over a
   sequence of photographs that were the result of the surveillance of the
   former bank manager taken by «her group». The woman further claimed
   that she had not dared distance herself from that group but she was
   afraid that she would be killed upon completing her `tasks'.

   On our part, we immediately investigated her claims. We subjected her
   to an accredited graphologist's test who comfirmed that the forged
   document showing that I was, supposedly, on the secret agents' payroll
   (as published in various blogs) was in her handwriting. We also
   confirmed with the ferry company that the car in which that team of
   operatives was supposed to have travelled to Zakynthos (to plant drugs
   in order to frame The Bank's former employee) had indeed travelled
   there. We also established that the car was registered to former
   intelligence agents who had been prosecuted for an number of misdeeds -
   and whose court case is pending.

   I met with this woman a number of times in an attempt further to
   establish the truth of her allegations. In one of these meetings, she
   said that the headquarters of her group was close to our magazine's
   (HOT DOC) but also that the group had abandoned those quarters fearing
   that we had worked out they were conducting surveillance on us from
   there (after I had written in HOT DOC that I know I am being followed).
   Furthermore, the woman handed to us audio records from her group's
   meetings in which they were discussing their plans. We went to the
   address she gave us to find abandoned offices that were for lease and
   to see if they featured hidden crypts (where the woman had told her
   group kept weapons). We found these hidden crevices and photographed
   them.

   To protect myself, I wrote a report on the above which I sealed and
   delivered to a notary to be released on the event of my death or
   disappearance. I also visited a district attorney whose
   incorruptibility I trust. The woman left Athens and is in hiding, even
   though I remain in contact with her.

   Following the above events, I was contacted by the group of people that
   I consider to have planned to assassin me. I alerted the police and met
   with them under police surveillance. In the meeting, they denied
   everything and pretended they had nothing to do with any of these
   plans. I left that meeting and then refused to take their repeated
   calls. A few days ago the case files were transferred again from the
   police to the district attorney. I know nothing further about the law
   agencies' activities in this regard."

   Kostas Vaxevanis' letter then moves on to another, related, issue: The
   Lagarde List which he and HOT DOC published causing a major political
   storm, that echoed around the world, and leading to his arrest (for
   endangering the privacy of those on the list) - not to mention to
   worldwide acclaim at least within the international community of
   investigative journalists. Vaxevanis was then acquitted in a short and
   triumphant trial but the prosecution appealed with the result that a
   second trial will take place next June.

   Meanwhile, following the publication of the Lagarde List, and under
   enormous pressure from public opinion, the Greek Parliament set up an
   investigative committee (made up of parliamentarians from each party,
   in proportion to their strength in Parliament - as per the
   Constitution) to investigate only one person: the former Minister of
   Finance, Mr George Papakonstantinou under whose watch the Lagarde List
   got `lost' within the Greek government and was never utilised by the
   authorities. The said Committee has a remit to rule on whether there is
   sufficient evidence to try Mr Papakonstantinou. In the context of its
   investigation, the Committee calls witnesses who are then examined by
   members of the Committee. In his letter, Vaxevanis says that, even
   though no one disputes that the list he and HOT DOC published was the
   original Lagarde List - as given to him by an anonymous person -
   certain members of the Committee subjected him to aggressive
   examination (something that I can vouch for having read the official
   transcripts as produced by the Greek Parliament) the purpose of which
   was, clearly, not to establish the truth about the Lagarde List but to
   discredit Vaxevanis and HOT DOC. Vaxevanis notes in his letter that the
   members of the Committee that were most aggressive happened to be the
   ones that ought to have stood down from the Committee on the basis of a
   clear conflict of interest. In particular, Vaxevanis writes in his
   letter:

   "The mother of one member of the Committee was on the Lagarde List. The
   wife of another member of the Committee appears to have power of
   attorney for an account on the Lagarde List. The third member, who
   happens to Chair the Committee, is the lawyer of a tax office employee
   who has been convicted for having embezzled millions of euros of tax
   payers' money. He has also been the subject of two parliamentary
   investigations but escaped prosecution shielded by legislation that
   gives investigators/prosecutors a mere two years before the case is
   considered to fall under the statute of limitations."

   Vaxevanis' letter finishes thus:

   "I thought it important to relate to you these events. I am in need for
   your assistance and advice. Every day that goes by, a new piece of a
   conspiracy is put together and I fear that the jigsaw may be completed
   by the time my second trial takes place in June. I feel they are keen
   to convict me while giving me the option to pay a fine instead of
   serving time in prison. Of course if convicted I shall refuse to do so,
   opting for prison in order to publicise in that manner what is going on
   in this country. I could ask for assistance from opposition parties but
   I revile the idea of becoming part of the party political game. Thank
   you for your attention and apologies for tiring you with my long-winded
   story. Alas, you are our only allies. Greece is sinking not only in an
   economic crisis but also in filth."

   Epilogue

   You may wonder what happened to The Chairman and to The Bank. The
   Chairman is doing fine, thank you. His insolvent bank has now turned
   into a (by Greek standards) Too-Big-Too-Fail monster, having been
   handed on a silver platter the good chunks of banks that the Greek
   taxpayer has paid through the nose to carve out of failed operations.
   Those in the know expect that he, amongst all Greek bankers, will
   probably manage to retain control of `his' bank after ESM-funded
   recapitalisation (though no one seems to know why he can attract
   private capital when healthier banks, like the National Bank of Greece,
   are failing to do so). His close connections with people high up in the
   Central Bank of Greece and in the political establishment (that the
   average Greek refers to as the Cleptocracy) have ensured that his power
   to extract rents from the rest of a crumbling society is inversely
   proportional to `his' bank's performance. Being a major `sponsor' of
   the bankrupt (both financially and morally) Greek media has certainly
   not done him any harm.

   Bankruptocracy in the Greek Sector of Bailoutistan is, thus,
   progressing in leaps and bounds. With European taxpayers' loan
   guarantees providing the capital and a bonfire of the Greek people's
   hopes for the future supplying the energy.

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