The Troika doesn’t want to bring justice to Greece, it just wants to take money from it
In what might at first sight look like a desperate attempt to raise money to pay off mathematically unrepayable debt, The Slog has learned that the Athens Government is set to sell the Mutual Fund Management subsidiary of the Bank of Greece to an American investment consortium. This is being personally arranged and handled by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and The Slog can confirm that the purchasers are personal friends of Samaras.
At least two of the members of the US consortium set to purchase BoG’s international Diethniki subsidiary from Greece are known to Samaras, and the lead player is a close person friend of the Prime Minister. Their intimacy goes back many years, probably from the time the Greek leader spent at Amherst and then Harvard in the 1970s.The deal as a whole is clouded in doubts about the ethics involved on both sides.
Diethniki manages funds made available through the Bank’s branch network. It is a service for big players, but these crooks took their funds out of the system long ago, and so the original legitimate income stream has dried up. It seems likely that the motives for the deal lie elsewhere: Diethniki offers a total of 35 mutual funds, 14 of them under the NBG SICAV brand name. This is managed through the Bank’s intermediaries NBG Luxembourg Holdings and Lux Finance Holdings. Athens sources suggest that these could represent a perfect vehicle for discreet tax evasion by both Americans and expat Greeks. Luxembourg is strenuously opposing EC attempts to open up its “doubtful” banking activities. The EC would have much greater difficulty getting an American-owned bank in Luxembourg to come clean on its transactions: but it won’t care: what the Sprouts, lenders and Draghulas want is some quick deficit-reducing cash. What Samaras will get out of this is anyone’s guess.
Some might see The Slog’s doubts about the Prime Minister’s honesty as unjustified. They shouldn’t: Samaras is a card-carrying member of the corrupt Greek élite, a man who follows policies and disburses funds aimed largely at feathering his own nest. He is not remotely unique in this, but he isn’t an exception to the rule either.
Antonis Samaras hails from Messinia. Just north of its large city Kalamata, a brand new motorway recently opened, cutting the time from Athens by a substantial amount. It was constructed and completed at a time when Greek government expenditure was under the cosh; but if you’re the PM, you can organise things such that your constituents get an unfair advantage…..and the travel to your own constituency becomes less arduous. Such are the ways of the Greek political and bureaucratic class.
The Troika has little interest in changing this culture, wanting only the survival of the euro, and safety for the loans offered idiotically by its banker friends. Not surprisingly, looting of the State’s tax and welfare systems has filtered down to the desperate professional classes. All of them have seen income streams disappear since 2008, but don’t be fooled into believing that such behaviour is a recent phenomenon: for years, pharmacists and GPs have been ripping off the system. Rich clients and patients can get cosmetic drugs and procedures recorded as something different – and thus supplied at a fraction of private practice prices. Nose jobs, botox and facelifts being carried out in this manner represent a very common practice. Hospital surgeons demand upfront cash payments from life-threatened patients as a matter of course. Most of the middle class and wealthier citizens of the larger suburban and urban centres accept this as perfectly normal….indeed, in many cases they are complicit in it.
Of course, the real sufferers are the growing legions of genuinely poor Greeks, but the Troikanauts don’t GAF about them. Only the radical Left in Greece is bothered about such things: the PASOK/New Democracy Coalition is just a bloodstained chariot of convenience into which lender shovels are thrust at regular intervals.
There will be no social justice in Greece until the Hellenic Republic defaults, and the long-dormant Greek spirit of honourable resistance is revived. By far the best chance for this is Syriza, the radical Leftist Party led by the increasingly savvy Alexis Tsipras. But Tsipras himself has become more equivocal over time: he has been cuddling up to Brussels here and there…..and is himself a product of the privileged professional classes. My sense (having spent more time recently in Greece) is that the Syriza leader may have learned his lesson: we can only wait and see. But if he wants to pull the older Greeks away from Samaras and Pasok, as a strategist it seems to me Mr Tsipras absolutely must lay massive stress on his reforming zeal when it comes to the corruption of privilege. And if he wants to get rid of that, there can be no alternative to default, leaving the eurozone, reverting to the Drachma, and placing Greece once more on a fiscally sustainable footing. For the European Union and its Troika accomplices have absolutely no interest in achieving any of those aims.
The country’s eurodebt management is not sustainable: that much is obvious to any reasonably competent 12 year-old mathematician. As long as the political Establishment is in power and Greece is in the euro, nothing of any value to the future of Greece will change. Tsipras and his Syriza apostles should nail their colours to the mast called Independent Greek Integrity: a fairer society in which export growth is stimulated by marketing untainted by kickbacks, tourism unhindered by eurozone membership, and the dignity of ordinary Greeks is restored along with the alleviation of their plight.
Right now in Greece, radicalism represents responsibility. Maintaining Status Quo will produce nothing more than the predictable playing and percussion one expects from the addled brains of ageing political musicians who know only how to sing Whatever you Want to Brussels.
I am respectfully begging Greek Sloggers to get this post in front of Alexis Tsipras, share it widely, and RT Twitter references to it.