Business World

Sunday 19 January 2020

Widow and pensioner suing Greek state over bond losses

Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou

Two Greek bondholders, a wealthy widow and a male pensioner, sued the Greek state yesterday over the money they have lost because of the country's multi-billion euro debt restructuring.

The 76-year-old widow says she has lost about €200,000, roughly half her investment in Greek government bonds, considered by many a safe asset before the debt crisis exploded, while the man has lost some €4,000, a court official said.

The two plaintiffs demand the annulment of a cabinet decree which forced private debt holders to swap their bonds for new ones, worth substantially less, saying the decision was unconstitutional and illegal.

"It's an unprecedented case,," their lawyer Alexandros Lykourezos said.

He said more bondholders wanted to join the two plaintiffs since they appealed to the court.

Pensioners have been hard hit by Greece's economic crisis, suffering cuts of about 25pc on average in their benefits.

A 77-year-old retired pharmacist shot himself in the head in Athens on Wednesday after saying that financial troubles had pushed him over the edge.

His suicide outside parliament has become a symbol of the hardships ordinary Greeks are suffering because of a series of wage and pension cuts and tax rises imposed to keep the country afloat and meet conditions to get aid from the EU and the IMF.

Greece swapped €177bn worth of bonds for new ones last month, inflicting losses on bondholders averaging three quarters of their investment, as part of a plan to slash its gargantuan debt.

The lawsuit filed by the two Greeks on Friday follows a case involving more than 100 holders of Greek bonds in Germany.

Irish Independent

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