Greece — Ruling party’s central committee to decide whether to hold inner-party referendum
By Mehreen Khan
The Daily Telegraph
Greece’s state prosecutors have set their sights on former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis who faces possible criminal charges over plans to set up a parallel payments system inside the monetary union.
The Greek parliament received two sets of legal complaints about the economist’s “surreptitious” blueprint to introduce a euro-denominated alternative currency as a precursor to an exit from the eurozone.
The cases were bought to the parliament by the Supreme Court following complaints from a Greek lawyer and mayor, and separately by a group of opposition conservative parliamentarians.
As an MP, Mr Varoufakis has immunity over criminal prosecution. But this could now be overturned by the Greek parliament which is set to review the allegations.
The self-styled “erratic Marxist” convened a five-man team to oversee clandestine plans to introduce “parallel liquidity” in Greece in order ease the credit strangulation imposed by the European Central Bank.
Mr Varoufakis’ team included respected US economist James K. Galbraith, and touted the use of smartphone apps to allow the state to continue making its domestic obligations to suppliers and collecting tax revenues. Mr Galbraith could also be facing a criminal trial over his involvement.
Controversy centres over whether or not the finance minister ordered a childhood friend and now professor at Columbia University to “hack” into government computer systems to gain access to sensitive taxpayer information and duplicate files for use under the parallel system.
In a recorded phone conversation to private investors, the finance minister is heard saying his team “decided to hack into my minister’s own software programme” to make the copies of taxpayer files and pin codes.
Mr Varoufakis has since said the nascent plans were all carried out within “the laws of the land, and at keeping the country in the eurozone”.
Following the news, Mr Varoufakis told The Telegraph he feared being hung up on charges of “treason” by political forces in the country.
“It is all part of an attempt to annul the first five months of this government and put it in the dustbin of history,” he said on Sunday.
The former minister said he was tasked with the responsibility to devise the contingency plan by prime minister Alexis Tsipras as early as December. He maintains the “Plan B” was fully disclosed to finance ministry officials and journalists when he resigned from office earlier this month.
Nevertheless, the airing of a private audio recording has caused a fresh political storm in the country. Brussels has been forced to deny accusations it controls Greece’s public revenues body, the equivalent of Britain’s Inland Revenue.
During the conversation held by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum and co-hosted by former Tory chancellor Norman Lamont, Mr Varoufakis said the Troika was “fully and directly” in charge of the country’s Secretariat of Public Revenues, forcing him to devise a way to access its computer network.
But the European Commission denied the allegations as “false and unfounded”.
“The Commission and IMF only provide technical assistance, they certainly do not control” the body, said Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva.
The denial came as the country’s stock market was posed to resume trading after a month of closure. Athens’ stock exchange is set to re-open with restrictions after the ECB granted a request from the Ministry of Finance.
Greece is slowly returning back to normalcy following nearly a month of capital controls.
Domestic credit card holders will be allowed to carry out foreign transactions for the first time since limits on transactions were imposed on June 29.
Negotiations over a third-bail for the country also resumed this week.
Heads of the “Troika” – made up of the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank – will convene in the Greek capital after mid-ranking officials started talks on Monday.
Athens says it expects technical talks to be completed by the end of the week, paving the way for the release of fresh funds to the country by the second week of August.
External bail-out monitors have not been in the ground in Athens since last year. Their presence – as decreed by creditors as part of a new rescue package – has been accompanied by a heavy security entourage. More than 250 police officers have been deployed to guard the central Athens Hilton hotel where bail-out officials are based.
How Germany Prevailed in the Greek Bailout
BERLIN — At the height of crucial negotiations over the latest bailout of Greece this month,Germany circulated a proposal that undercut decades of promises about the march toward deeper European unity: Greece, it said, could be offered a temporary exit from the euro.
The proposal reflected some muscle-flexing by hard-liners in Berlin. But it was first broached privately not by the Germans, but by Slovenia, a tiny eurozone member whose finance minister demanded a “Plan B” for a leftist Greek government he compared to the former Yugoslavia’s Communists.
Slovenia’s proposal was a double triumph for Germany. Greece’s continuing economic crisis has not only done nothing to soften Germany’s insistence on strict adherence to rules, fiscal austerity and dire consequences for countries that fail to live up to their obligations, it has also actually reinforced the willingness of Germany’s allies in Europe to impose even harsher conditions on Athens.
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