Saturday 24 September 2016

Greece Crisis: Yanis Varoufakis faces criminal prosecution over secret 'Plan B' currency plot

Greece's supreme court lodges legal case to Greek parliament as Varoufakis "treason" charges escalate

Mehreen Khan

Published 28/07/2015 | 21:42

Yanis Varoufakis
Yanis Varoufakis

Greece's state prosecutors have set their sights on former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis who faces criminal charges over plans to set up a parallel payments system inside the monetary union.

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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.

Yanis Varoufakis
Yanis Varoufakis

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.

Read more here: Greece Crisis: Greek stock market to reopen this week after ECB approval 

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.

Outgoing Greek Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis leaves on his motorcycle with his wife Danai after his resignation at the ministry of Finance in downtown Athens this week
Outgoing Greek Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis leaves on his motorcycle with his wife Danai after his resignation at the ministry of Finance in downtown Athens this week
Greece’s maverick finance minister Yanis Varoufakis dodges photographers as he leaves the Ministry of Finance in Athens after announcing his surprise resignation yesterday with his wife Danai on the back of his motorbike
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (L) and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis talk during a parliamentary session in Athens

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.

Read more here: Greece crisis: German advisors want mechanism for a country to leave euro zone  

The details were revealed in a recorded conversation to private investors and were leaked to the Greek press at the weekend.

Following the news, Mr Varoufakis told The Telegraph he feared being hung up on charges of "treason" by political forces in the country.

Newly-appointed Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (R) and outgoing Yannis Varoufakis embrace at the Finance Ministry after a handover ceremony in Athens
Newly-appointed Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (R) and outgoing Yannis Varoufakis embrace at the Finance Ministry after a handover ceremony in Athens
Newly-appointed Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (right) and outgoing minister Yannis Varoufakis arrive at the Finance Ministry for a handover ceremony in Athens last night

"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.

Read more here: Greek loan talks held amid tax data plans claim  

Nevetheless, the airing of a private audio recording has caused a fresh political storm in the country. Brussels has been forced to deny accusations that they are in control of the country'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 was recorded as saying the Troika was "fully and directly" in charge of the country's Secretariat of Public Revenues, forcing him to devise a way to access the body's 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.

Read more here: Greece's former Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis confirms covert plan to hack tax codes  

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.

Read more here: Greece crisis: Creditors now demanding third wave of reforms before bailout loans release  

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.

Telegraph.co.uk

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