Yanis Varoufakis: Greek Banksters in Action – On the Latest Twist in the Story of Mafia-Style Terror Spreading Through the Greek Polity

Yves here. When high level bank and government dealings start resembling a John Grisham novel, it’s a sign that the rule of law is breaking down in a serious way. Given that the Troika’s plan for Greece is to break it on the rack, this sort of criminality isn’t a surprise. But the troubling bit is that if you reset this story in the US, I doubt anyone would find it implausible.

By Yanis Varoufakis, professor of economics at the University of Athens. Cross posted from his blog

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 11th 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.


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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  1. kimsarah

    This account lends credence to what many of us suspect has been going on. Grand theft. Banks in bed with mobsters. Politicians in bed with both.
    Better send Holder and Breuer to over there to get to the bottom of it. Better yet, keep them here where our grand theft can continue unabated.

    1. pws (@pws4)

      Holder and Breuer would only be interested in getting a piece of that action if they went over there.

  2. Clive

    No tin foil hats required here; this story is all too plausible. Coming soon to a “democracy” near you ?

    Why did I believe this ? Only — and it is a little tenuous and a correlation not proof — the TBTF I’m aquatinted with has a PR department with well over a hundred staffers. What, exactly, are they here for ? Promotion of truth and honesty ? I think not. That, plus the police being very, very lax in investigations of fraud involving the said TBTF.

  3. YankeeFrank

    If this journalist had uncovered such criminality in the US he would likely be ignored, his claims appearing only in obscure blogs and never gaining traction. Either that or he would’ve had a “heart attack” and died efficiently and quickly.

    The Greek (ex)-spooks are apparently not that good. Thankfully.

  4. aw70

    So, dear Yves…

    as I am not a very frequent commenter on this blog, you might not remember my nickname offhand. But if you look through the comments I’ve made over the past years, you will see that I’ve repeatedly called Greece a “failed state” that was beyond hope from the very start of the crisis. And especially at first, most people here bristled at this heresy – how dare I refer to a respectable European Union member state like that?

    But what you are writing about here is precisely what I meant all along. The difference between Greece and Somalia basically boils down to the widespread availability of Tzatziki. Well, not really, that (finally) is a gross and unfair mis-characterisation after all. But still: Greece is not going down the tubes, it is already somewhere down at the bottom of the tube system, on the trash heap. All we are seeing is a gradual dis-integration, post-impact. This is a state no-one believes in anymore, the “elites” of which are completely out of touch with any credible version of reality, and where no clear way out is in sight for miles and miles on end. This will not end prettily, mark my words.

    And as an European, I’m not happy about having to write this. Absolutely the contrary. No, I want my youth back, the 80ies and 90ies, when you could go to southern Europe on a vacation, and see these countries being a bit behind their northern counterparts, but working on it. The general feeling was one of “keep it up, chaps, and in a couple of years you’ll be reasonably on par”. These were places one could enjoy going to. They were, apart from the holiday atmosphere, the sea and the nice weather, symbols that post-war Europe was improving. That those parts which were behind would eventually catch up. Not today, not tomorrow, but still. It would happen, and it would work.

    Oh boy, were we wrong.

    Apart from all the actual problems, this loss of vision, this loss of goals, is perhaps the most toxic result of this whole mess. We used to be a continent of diverse cultures, with lots of things that were not perfect. But it was still a place that had some goals, some things to strive for.

    Now, we have discovered that the political elites across the entire continent are not only of subnormal intelligence, totally corrupt and entirely self-serving, but also seriously delusional in their attempts to have things still play out their way, in spite of the obvious unfeasibility of this happening. And the worst part is that there are zero credible alternatives in sight. We are stuck in a nightmare, and waking up does not seem to be an option.

    1. from Mexico

      aw70 says:

      “But still: Greece is not going down the tubes, it is already somewhere down at the bottom of the tube system, on the trash heap.”

      Saludos from La Paz, Bolivia.

      While I agree with the general gist of what you are saying, I nevertheless believe neoliberalism has quite a ways to go before it reaches its final act in Greece. The final act will be the slaughter of the innocents, after which if the Greek people rebel against this, the perpetrators of the slaughter will be given asylum, probalby either in Germany or the United States.

      The progression of neoliberalism, aka economic liberalism, is well documented over its 235 year history. It always ends in violence against the subject race.

      Glenn Greenwald explains what happened in Bolivia:

      ” In October 2003, the intensely pro-US president of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, sent his security forces to suppress growing popular protests against the government’s energy and globalization policies. Using high-powered rifles and machine guns, his military forces killed 67 men, women and children, and injured 400 more, almost all of whom were poor and from the nation’s indigenous Aymara communities. Dozens of protesters had been killed by government forces in the prior months when troops were sent to suppress them.”


      But then, as Greenwald goes on to explain:

      “The resulting outrage over what became known as “the Gas Wars” drove Sanchez de Lozada from office and then into exile in the United States, where he was welcomed by his close allies in the Bush administration. He has lived under a shield of asylum in the US ever since.

      The Bolivians, however, have never stopped attempting to bring their former leader to justice for what they insist are his genocide and crimes against humanity: namely, ordering the killing of indigenous peaceful protesters in cold blood (as Time Magazine put it: “according to witnesses, the military fired indiscriminately and without warning in El Alto neighborhoods”). In 2007, Bolivian prosecutors formally charged him with genocide for the October 2003 incident, charges which were approved by the nation’s supreme court.

      Bolivia then demanded his extradition from the US for him to stand trial. That demand, ironically, was made pursuant to an extradition treaty signed by Sánchez de Lozada himself with the US. Civil lawsuits have also been filed against him in the US on behalf of the surviving victims.”

      But now Obama has refused to extradict Goni, and US courts have dismissed all charges and all suits against Goni.

      The anger on the streets here agasinst the United States is palpable.

      The people of Greece are on a learning curve, but I think they are still fairly early on that curve. They could learn a great deal by studying what has happened in places like South America, Northern Africa and the Middle East, and some of the intellectual trends evolvinging in those countries, but I suppose they’re still too in love with the idea that they are the European oppressors and not the oppressed to do such a revolutionary thing.

      1. from Mexico

        I suppose I should rephrase that. Neoliberalism, aka liberal internaitonalism or liberal imperialism, is no longer about dominating the subject race as it was in the 19th century, but about dominating the subject class.

        1. Claudius

          Entirely agree with your last statement; if my understanding of ‘class’ (in this context)as: all social strata whose members share certain economic, social, or cultural characteristics other than those of the the neo-liberal 1%, is correct.

      2. Nathanael

        South America is 20-150 years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of these events. It is interesting to note that the US and the neoliberal power-brokers have completely lost control of Bolivia and are not going to get it back for generations, at a minimum.

        Yes, the murderous elites generally find asylum in corrupt, wealthy countries. This works right up until the linchpin country — the US — changes its leadership and decides to get rid of the leftovers from the old regime. (This doesn’t mean the new leadership is any better, just that they don’t have any loyalty to the people protected by the old regime.)

        I don’t know when it will happen to the US, but it happened to the USSR and it will definitely happen to the US sooner or later.

  5. Aussie F

    Well done for publicising this. Someone’s survival may well depend on the degree of international coverage this story receives.

    1. Maria S.

      You are absolutely correct. I believe Mr. Vaxevanis attributes his acquittal, following his publication of the Lagarde List, to the fact that his story drew international media attention.

    1. Anonymous

      Thank you for the segue. I could not believe my eyes this morning when I watched CNN and saw the war conditions which have been implemented in the Boston suburb of Watertown. Are we really so terrified that we would welcome armed soldiers en masse on our streets, obeying orders to stay indoors and wait for a house to house search by armed forces looking for a single deranged person. Have we all gone mad? Does this make us feel safe? I have never seen anything like this on US soil. Yet not a single word from the press questioning the lock down.

      1. Nathanael

        The lockdown is mostly just gratutious Soviet-style terrorization of the public.

        The only legitimate part of the “lockdown” is that it gives people a legal excuse to not go to work. This needed to be done, but the Governor could have done it pretty easily by, uh, ordering all workplaces closed.

        It *certainly* won’t help catch the suspect. They caught the first one because the two men decided to go commit more crimes. If the second one decides to commit more crimes, he will be caught; if he doesn’t, he will disappear for longer than the lockdown can be maintained. Modern cities can’t be locked down, it’s a tactical fact.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Couldn’t agree more with all of you. I wonder if this isn’t payback for a lot of the resentment at cat food futures being expressed recently since Massachusetts is one of the centers of “fu*king retards” who aren’t grateful enough for being robbed again and again and again. We have been complaining a lot. So the message is perhaps: “Let’s humiliate the bastards and get them grovelling in their apartments…That ought to show em.” and that’s exactly what’s being done by a bunch of zombies in outrageous get-up. It looks exactly like one of those quarantine movies where some super duper virus has escaped a level gazillion lab and infected a whole city and the military has come in to, heh, heh, handle it.

        I never thought I would see cops in total military getup swarming the city and suburbs of Boston. There’s something positively vile about it.

        And there is definitely some resentment on the part of Bostonians, though you’ll never hear that from AS* LICKS such as NPR or any of the Yellow Stream Media.

  6. Cinderella, who have lost both shoes for evil witch

    Sadly I have to agree with aw70.

    As northern European citizen I feel, that I have been cheated badly.

    They say that it is for our own benefit, that we keep shoveling money to periphery countries, but how can it be so? They have to cut their social spending as a reciprocation, but how does this help our economy or people who live in periphery countries? Dunno.

    Why they dont intervene on this kleptocracy thing at all? How does it help people in these corrupt countries, that we support their participant in European Union, no matter what their kleptocracy masters do? Is it really solidarity thing to make rich even more richer and let Troika take everything from poor except life, which they will take themselves anyway, cause they dont have anything left no more.

    Why European Union doesnt force these guys to step down, like they do for ministers who wont accept austerity and replace with MARIOnettes.

    Have this property protection gone too far, because nobody cares how that property have been obtained? Should we really protect wealth, what have been obtained with such a way, that its against common sense of law? This Greece kleptocracy is against the law, but why nobody puts any pressure on Greece and other evil mafia countries?

    Does EU have any other function, than to do rich even more richer and let them buy other countries fortunes with money what they dont have, but can create with a key stroke?

    Is there any legitimacy for EU to exist? It just grows, but doesnt bring any good 99 % of the people. Its like cancer and chemotherapy doesnt work. Everything will be soon sold for tycoons and theres nothing left for future generations.

    Thank you Thatcher and Friedman, of course its better to sell common property under its real value. Take the money and run. It would be stupid to let all benefit from natural resources, what country have next 1000+ years. God bless short-term thinking and selfish psychopaths.

    1. JEHR

      Cinderella, I feel so sad at what you are saying because this decay and corruption will not stop. We feel so safe and smug in Canada and brag about our banks, but we are really in trouble, too, and it will catch up with us. I write my MP to try to understand why our PM is opting for austerity when there are so many without jobs. I complain about our banks being “injected with liquidity” after 2008 which is a sure sign of trouble and the PM denies it and my MP says the banks in Canada did nothing wrong and are strong. But the Canadian banks are part of the global system and why should we be any better than any other country? We are not smarter. I do not believe the PM or my MP and they don’t want to tell the truth.

      Our environment is being polluted and destroyed by the repealing of Federal environmental laws made over the years. The Tar Sands continue to expand and bring their degradation and filth that will destroy thousands of acres of pristine land and water and the peoples who depend on both.

      How can a problem be fixed if you don’t even acknowledge the problem? Or how can a problem be fixed by those who are intent on creating the problem?

      Workers pension plans in the poorest provinces are being decimated even after retirement. The rot is everywhere.

      It is all so blind and could be stopped but no one has the courage to do anything. I feel as though the whole of the earth’s atmosphere is full of this poisonous neoliberalism which makes the elite so hateful, greedy, and without feeling. Without justice and good leadership, I am certain that in a few years (a very few years) Canada will be following the rest of the world in the race to the bottom of civilization.

    2. David Petraitis

      You say:
      They say that it is for our own benefit, that we keep shoveling money to periphery countries, but how can it be so? They have to cut their social spending as a reciprocation, but how does this help our economy or people who live in periphery countries? Dunno.

      Think it through and wisdom will come. Elites in the north have paid bribes to elites in the south to export arms and industrial equipment. Banks in the north and south are on both ends of the trades. Banks in the north have positions in/on banks in the south, if banks in the south go belly up the banks and elites in the north will suffer.

      You ask what about what “They say.” Who is this ‘they?’ The propaganda is the music that the elites are playing to the people. Listen to it. It seems to have a martial tune, in a minor key. The music has the tone of morality, blame and suffering that is for the ‘greater good.’

      You ask “How can it be so? How is this to our benefit?” When in fact you recognize already, but may not want to see it. You need to ask who “we” are? Can you fail to see who benefits? Follow the money, and you will see clearly. It is laid out in the article and the comments here. Look, see, and attain knowledge of who the benefits are for.

      “How does this help us?” you plaintively ask. When you can see through it all already: It does not will not and was not intended to help you, to help the ‘people,’ … ever. But you cannot quite believe it yet. Surely ‘our betters’ have our ‘best interests’ at heart! you may still think in some trusting corner of your mind.

      Cinderella, the clock is striking Twelve! Wake up from your slumber. The time is coming and has come when we will be forced to place our bodies on the gears of the machine to make it stop.

  7. Can't Help It

    Sad that it has come to this, and yet inspired that there are still people in this world who are courageous enough to stand up for truth.

  8. Claudius

    It should also be remembered there’s another other hero in this story as well as another villain.

    The other hero is the source of Madame Lagarde’s List, Hervé Falciani, the computer services specialist with HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) N.A. He’s the one whom downloaded the list.

    The other villain (other than former finance minister Papaconstantinou, whom is currently facing tria and ten years in prison for allegedly removing the names of three of his relatives from the list, then “admitting” to losing the original data, but then found it and was able to pass “another copy” to his successor) is Evangelos Venizelos (leader of Greece’s socialist Pasok party). Venizelos, whom eventually admitted to having held the list but has failed to produce it (so far) is sitting on the investigating committee and the reason for this is the back story.

    However, the Greek department of Justice believe that several of the names on the ‘Lagarde List’ would show deposited sums from German arms supplier Siemens (likely bribes) to Venizelos (and other politicians) and business elites Sophocles Priniotakis D. Siafaka, Maria-Christina Makrodimou, Marios Katsikas, Panagiotis Voila – all suspected of depositing large sums into HSBC Zurich during October 2010, when Siemens illegally paid into political party funds and gave bribery payments to secure government contracts.

    The Siemens bribery case was closed in August 2011 (Siemens paying a 270 million euros ($358.37 million) fine), when the Greek parliament found ‘no reason for further investigation or referral‘. Venizelos played a major part in its closure.

    But, a German company bribing politician and business elites is old hat these days – the public is jade. However, what is interesting is what the list really threatens to unravel (other than more bribes and tax evasion); further instances of traceable organized crime money laundering, involving a total loss to the Greek exchequer of around €2 billion, and a network of government bribes that will could reveal it source and recipient. What worries Samaras (Greek prime minister) and the Troika is, if substantiated, the impact of this.

    German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung writes that: ‘The opposition is not the biggest threat to the government or the plans of the troika. If the government falls it will be because the government partner and president of PASOK Evangelos Venizelos is a factor of uncertainty. He refuses to clarify his role in the falsification scandal (concerning Laggard’s List) of Swiss bank accounts.’

    In short, George Papaconstantinou is not the only one going to jail if the couscous hit’s the fan. Papaconstantinou will sing like a Siren, implicate Venizelos (and other senior politicians), destabilize the coalition and (with pressure from golden dawn), potentially, the drag crooked Germans back into the limelight….just as Angela Merkel and the Troika is wrestling with further austerity/bailouts.

    But at least an investigation is underway; No one dare touch Vaxevanis now; and that‘s something positive, no? Yes, it is. But, just how positive is a matter of opinion. Judge for yourself. Quoted in many Greek newspapers (a preface and then part of the transcript of the last investigating committee meeting):

    ‘Insults even below the belt flew through the air, glasses full of water were broken while even a microphone felt also victim to extreme-right testosterone. The parliament room turned into an “American bar”, an expression Greeks use to describe a place where everybody can come and do whatever one wants. The “circus” started on Thursday after a meeting break and after Venizelos told reporters why the meeting was interrupted. Instead of speaking about some disagreements, he told reporters:

    “There are tensions due to testosterone; it’s a matter of endocrinology. In any case, medical science has not concluded whether psychiatry precedes endocrinology or vice versa.”

    When the meeting resumed, Ilias Kasidiaris, Golden Dawn MP, took the floor and said” I want to denounce that Mr. Venizelos speaks insultingly about the committee members… It’s you, Venizelos, lacking testosterone.”

    Venizelos: I can’t follow such sexist behavior, Mr. Chairman, protect me.

    Kasidiaris: I am a man; I’m not a hustler, I ‘m not a fraudster

    Venizelos: But you are a fascist. The parliament cannot be in dialogue with such Nazi behaviors

    Kasidiaris throws down glass full of water, breaks the microphone and beating his hand on the table

    Kasidiaris: Shut up, your are ridiculous and fat

    Venizelos: Mr. Chairman, protect me

    Chairman to Kasidiaris: I withdraw from you the right to speak.

    Kasidiaris left the meeting, Chairman Markogiannakis told reporters later, stressing “that was fascism in action.”

      1. Claudius

        The open question is what will Lagarde’s List reveal as it relates to the totality of the 15% of Germany’s total arms exports which are made to Greece – its biggest market in Europe.

        From 2002 to 2006 (Greece was the world’s fourth biggest importer of conventional weapons. It is now the 10th and as a proportion of GDP, Greece spent twice as much as any other EU member on defense). Mr. Tsochatzopoulos’, Minister for National Defense between 1996 and 2001 and his committee is being investigated; due to whistleblower allegations of managing ‘black’ money given by Siemens as bribe for the MIM-104 Patriot systems

        1. Susan the other

          I’m really not paranoid, but the Alex Jones’ question crosses my mind. What other purpose for conventional weapons than shooting your own rioting citizens. A plan that appears to go back to the beginning of the Iraq War. Odyssey Dawn.

  9. Middle Seaman

    The US isn’t and will not be a failed state, but the description of Greece isn’t that far from Obama’s America.

    1. Nathanael

      “The US isn’t and will not be a failed state”

      I suspect it will be. Hopefully not like Somalia.

      The USSR was also a failed state. The US could easily fail the way the USSR failed.

      The difference between the US/USSR on the one hand, and states like Somalia and Greece on the other hand, is that we have multiple functioning layers of local government. They will pick up the slack created by the collapse of a national government, as they did in the USSR.

      This is unless the national government or foreign governments decide to go blundering around smashing up the local governments, which is actually what happened in Somalia, more or less.

  10. washunate

    Yeah, once you acknowledge systemic undermining of the rule of law, nothing is surprising, because this is exactly what one would expect under such a situation. Look at how many US corporate executives/directors have made themselves wealthy in companies that have broken the law under their watch.

    Yet we arrest drug users and immigrants by the millions.

  11. diptherio

    Blockquote tags messed up. Should close after this sentence:

    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.”

    …and ‘open’ again after this one:

    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:

  12. ltr

    A serious question: Was Greece a democracy when it joined the eurozone? Is Greece a democracy now?

    1. RBHoughton

      We borrowed the word democracy from the American and French Revolutions. After those countries had been defeated, it was clear the people liked the concept so we kept it whilst changing its nature.

      We Poms always considered it as mob rule, inevitably turbulent and likely to cause instability. We relied of course on the Athenian version to form that opinion as the Yanks / Frogs had developed the concept into a working and effective political system. But that’s all yesterday.

      Perhaps Jeffery Sachs, who appears on this page in another article, has that in mind in his new role.

  13. Charis

    I am a little bit shocked by the comments of “some northern europeans”.

    Fpr “us south europeans” it is very clear who our politicians and most of all banksters are.Criminals.They have always been gangsters.We are not small childrens.

    But reading that some people in “northern europe” really believe that their politicians and banksters are any better than ours is a little bit shocking.This must be because our “northern friends” have no free press anymore.Since I am in germany I looked a little bit into the german press landscape and I recognised that it is worse than china or the former soviet union.

    Just yesterday the greek state attorney wanted former Siemens-Chief (and Mrs.Merkels ex-chief advisor till 2009) Pierer to come to athens for anti-corruption investigations.Of course the guy did not come.Also the german courts deny to extradite the former greek siemens chief (and best friend of Pierer) who fled to germany after he was judged by greek courts.

    German/”northern europe” and greek/southern europe corruptionis the same monster.Just the northern europeans are to brainwashed and have not anyone who will tell them.

    1. Systemic Disorder

      Corporate control of the press is so much more effective than government control. Many newspapers, many channels, owned by different corporations (OK, not many, but still there are a few separate owners left standing) and they all say the same thing. It must be true then! When all the papers are controlled by the government/party, it is easier to dismiss the content because it comes from one source.

      But give it a little more time, Charis. Austerity does not stop at national or regional borders.

  14. Susan the other

    This explains Cyprus and Russia. And maybe that it has already come here on Patriots Day in Boston. International lawlessness. Brought to us by the banksters. It’s too bad they can’t fight it out among themselves without harming the rest of us. Anthrax. Ricin. Directional explosives. Stone dead perps. The apparent collapse of the entire financial system. Warning that a suicide bomber was headed out from Boston to Manhattan. How did they know he was headed for Manhattan? Is he/she headed for Wall Street?

  15. Charis

    Oh dear..I just realized that I sound like I wanted to defend anything to do with our banking/political-system and to “blame” ze e-vil germans” again..mea culpa

    But the truth must be told.We have a lots of good journalists and other free people who really care and make their investigations no matter what.Even the state owned system-propaganda-channel (ERT/NET) brings every evening a report about the last corruption cases.Simply because the greeks demand it.Our ex-MoD Tsouchazopoulos is in jail now.He took money from HDW for buying german submarines which do not work.Another former MoD (Papantoniou) was just yesterday set free on 50.000 euro bail.He bought german Leo2 tanks from Kraussmaffeiwegman and took some 2 million euros bribe which he brought to the cayman-islands.You hear about nothing else these days in greek news.

    Now,here in germany it is a circus.You dont hear anything about all this I described above.Honestly.Most journalists in germany who talk day in day out about how corrupt the south europeans are did not even say a word about the ThyssenKrupp,Siemens,HDW,Deutsche Telekom,HochTief (and a dozen other german companies)-scandals in greece,portugal,spain etc..to 90% of the germans it is like these things never happened.

    Just in 2010 the german foreign minister went to athens and “asked” Papandreou to buy 60 german fighter jets to get the “german help”.Let me remind you that by that time we already have been marked by the german media as “bankrupt” and that “the german tax payers would have to give money for the lazy greeks”..again the greek society went nuts and asked “why do we need 60 eurofighters when we are bankrupt”..one year later our government bought two more german submarines.

    This is how these stories in greece always end.

  16. allcoppedout

    The reduction of societies to poverty by a rich elite and bandits is an old story. In Anglo-American myth the Magnificent Seven ride in to put matters right. In fact we have been living through an extension of the Hundred Years War writ larger. I have to admit in great shame that what we generally hear of Greece in the UK relates to it being south of the Olive Line – beyond which taxes are not paid and no productive work is done.
    I suspect Yanis’ experience is already that of the UK, but it is less obvious here. I want to see the criminals hunted down, but the key question for me is why “austerity works” in the way it does. Any decent person should want to change non-competitive economies in a way that keeps people employed (actually ‘in money’). This could clearly be done through project work on a local-international basis, yet what we get is massive punishment of the poor little different to bandits riding in and stealing all the ‘crops’.

    I believe what we need to pull down is the organisation that justifies terrorising the poor as moral in terms of ‘you have to be cruel to be kind’. In this sense, the edifice of neo-classical economics is medieval. I cry seeing Greek kids rummaging for food, dread it is coming here and experience impotent rage.

    The answer is a big programme of local-international project work and an honest international accounting utility that is transparent against fraud and funded by sequestration and collapse of entrenched wealth – a new system built to avoid anyone taking this over as government-through-money (something that can only be done by treating money-capital as neutral and obscuring origins – and is the current de facto case). We have been taught this is naive and the sky will fall if we do it. We could, of course, establish such as a countervailing institution to “capitalism” – much as we separate Parliament and the Judiciary.

  17. Chris Engel

    Absolutely amazing.

    I wasn’t aware the corruption was that blatant and pervasive.

    A truly amazing story that puts into perspective a situation that I knew was really bad, shedding light on how much worse it was than I thought.

    I saw a quote the other day that really hit me, it just happens to be from the Prophet Mohammad:

    “What destroyed previous nations was, when the elite perpetrated injustices they were not punished but when the weak did it, they were.”

    The bank fraud, tax evasion, and outright corruption of officials from the United States to Europe (both periphery and UK/Germany/France) is astounding. The lack of criminal prosecution, and the tendency to merely fine instead of imprison hardened felons of high-finance and political elites is unbearable.

    Meanwhile petty drug users are faced with grossly disproportionate penalties, and if you were to dare commit any small scale fraud that led to injury against a corporation or wealthy individual you get shut-down immediately and do hard-time. You can’t even dare blow the whistle on corruption you witness within the military industrial complex or the vast corporatocracy, lest you desire a stay in solitary confinement indefinitely.

    The respective tipping points of the ever-growing police-state in the United States and the total economic destruction of nation-states in Europe must be reached soon. This can’t go on much longer, unless the “developed” (economically of course) countries are to just accept their fate as honorary members of the third world, with their insane inequality and oligarchical power structures.

  18. charles sereno

    A previous comment used the phrase “impotent rage.” It’s a common emotion that unites very many of us. How to constructively direct it to the good?

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