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…and the Shit Hit the Greek Fan: Political Scandals Stole Our Anger to Austerity Measures

I think, our world, our political and social world here in Greece is really upside down. Thursday noon, the coalition government partners leaders agreed on the 11 billion euro measures that will kneel households with further salaries cuts, the elderly with pension cuts and the self-employed and freelancers with 30-35% taxes. Already in the afternoon the finalized package was leaked to the press. Under normal circumstances this would have led to endless discussions in the media and uproar among the citizens. But the circumstances are not normal. Here in Greece, a … miracle happened! The political world stole our anger against the austerity measures. 

Justified or unjustified, corruption allegations from all sky directions, every body against everybody and all against each other. So many things concerning the politicians happened on a single day. On Thursday, September 27th 2012, the day the coalition leaders agreed on the austerity measures.

  • The Parliament lifted the immunity of former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (Nea Dimocratia MP) so she can clarify her involvement in a case regarding a controversial financial transaction of 1 million dollars.
  • The hearing for a lawsuit brought against Independent Greeks’ leader Panos Kammenos by the brother of ex-Premier George Papandreou, Andrikos, was put off until January due to the judges strike. Kammenos claims Papandreou profited by buying credit default swaps to insure against a Greek default.
  • ND-MP Sofia Voultepsi accused the Financial Crimes Units (SDOE) of being a “snitch shop” established by former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou (PASOK) so that he could collect evidence against his political adversaries. He filed a lawsuit against her and asked the lifting of her immunity.
  • George Papaconstantinou admitted in a statement that he had indeed received a CD with the names of 1,991 Greeks with 1.5 billion euro assets in Swiss banks back in 2010. The CD was given to him by then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde. ” I picked up the most striking amounts and asked the SDOE to investigate and compare income declarations with bank accounts content,” he wrote adding he then gave the CD to SDOE. However SDOE officials insist to have never received the CD. Economic prosecutor Peponis investigates the disappearance of the CD.

The famous CD contained some 24,000 names of French, German, Italians and Greeks individuals and companies with assets in HSBC in Geneva. 

Guilty or not guilty, the full list finance minister Stournaras was telling us about, the “original list” with the names of 36 former and current politicians, apparently under investigation by the Finance Crime Units (SDOE) was made public.

Politicians, we know, and politicians we’ve never heard of. At least, I didn’t. I’m sure their voters did.

Politicians under investigation initiated by mostly anonymous complaints. Politicians in suspicion to have become rich without economic justification.

He is not rich, I can see. He may be the owner of 23 properties (apartments, shops, agricultural and pasture land) in several areas of Athens and Crete but except two or three pieces he bought, the rest was inherited by his and his wife’s parents.

23 properties? Where’s the problem? Other politicians declare, they have 50 properties… 

Furthermore, as serving the country and the common interest is an expensive hobby, one has to be rich to become a politician, right? Or “to have 20 grandpas to inherit their properties,” as a friend commented.

Yes, our focus has been directed to the political world and their alleged corruption scandals.

  • Copies of letters have been uploaded to major websites. Letters sent by businessmen to the Prime Minister, the Greek Police, the Greek Parliament and I don’t know who else, making complains about money-laundering and involvement of politicians.
  • The letter-case is so serious that even the office of PM issued a press release, confirming to have received the one letter (registration date 12 Sept 2012) but “the allegations were vague” and no concrete name was mentioned. The letter was forwarded to the Minister of Citizen Protection as the businessman expressed fears about his life.

And if this is not enough, the case of former PASOK defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos is proceeding. Again. Millions and more million have been given and received. Bribes. the prosecutor has called the German ex wife of Tsochatzopoulos and an ex deputy defense minister Millions and more millions. A total of … whatever. But less than a billion in bribes. And a lot of properties.

A hell of a money. A hell of properties.

Later this evening the self-employed sat at the living room table. Papers in front of him and a calculator. he is trying to make a clue about the new taxation. 35%. One third of his revenues. One euro for every three euro he puts in his shop cash register. “So much for taxes in total, so much tax in advance, so much Value Added Tax in advance, so much social security contributions. And the mortgage tranche.” He calculates again and again. Brain stroke. Right there. On the spot. With the head laying over the papers and the television set heralding the new corruption cases.

Almost the same happened with the grandpa. He wasn’t quick enough to shove the pill under his tongue. When he heard, that the Xmas and Easter bonuses will be cut. Last year they were cut into half, next year they will vanish. With a single pen move 700 euro will disappear. What if the grandpa had borrowed money to pay the regular and emergency taxes. The bonuses would not be sufficient to pay his loan back.

 PS As Voultepsi said “the smart ones have their assets in off shores….”



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  1. Ever hear of smoke-screens? Back door politics? Political posturing?
    Here they are, all of them, in full swing. An orchestrated public session of mud-slinging, use of “un-parliamentary language” in front of journalists, and other very public disagreements, and journalists will always bit. They report on what the see happening in front of them, their curiosity is satisfied, their editor is satisfied.
    And while the charade goes on in public, the knife gets stuck in from behind closed doors. Standard, politics, standard deception. Parliament is no longer a place where lawmakers gather and take care of important business of national interest and concern.
    Most people elected as so-called parliamentarians today would be much better employed as actors in B-movies. For that’s what they are, bad actors. At least, employing them according to their abilities would save the country a load of money.

    Whether Evangelos Meimarakis is guilty or not is of course a matter for the courts. But publishing his tax returns is another smoke screen, and no proof of innocence or otherwise. He would however be a very stupid man to get involved in a money laundering racket and then declare the proceeds in a tax return…

    As for the cds, maybe we should ask Lagarde? After all, with the lawsuits hanging over her head in France, and the cushy 500,000 € tax-free job she got as a reward for all her “efforts”, surely she has some sort sort of “security” somewhere that would remind certain people keep there mouths shut if needed? A copy of a CD maybe?

  2. It is interesting that they would have all this high drama including foul utterances when passing the austerity measures. Is the logic that people won’t react once the moment passes?