- Poll: Europe’s Eurosceptics more united than many think
- Golden Dawn and the rise of the far right in Europe
- A confederacy of xenophobes in Europe?
- Surge in support for anti-EU populist parties threatens the European integration
- Ukip support surges following Maria Miller expenses scandal, poll finds
- Cameron says rivals’ views on Europe ‘extremist’
- French far-right party soars in elections
Report: Investor-state lawsuits worth €1.7 billion rage across Europe, could spiral dramatically under TTIP
Greece, Cyprus and Spain are facing claims from speculative investors worth more than €1.7 billion in a series of eurozone-related investor-state disputes that could spiral dramatically under a proposed EU-US trade deal known as TTIP, a new report says. The study ‘Profiting from Crisis’, is launched today (10 March) by campaigning group Corporate Europe Observatory and the Trans-National Institute, as the EU begins a public consultation on the regulatory implications of any agreement.
The paper finds that “a growing wave” of corporate lawsuits from investors burned in Europe’s recent economic crisis risks repeating the banking sector bail-out that precipitated it. Many of these litigants are “circling vultures” looking for short-term bargains and not long-term investments, the report claims. “At a time when ordinary people across Europe have been stripped of many basic social rights, it is perverse that the EU supports an international investment regime which provides VIP protection to largely speculative foreign investors,” said Cecilia Olivet, the report’s co-author.
Greek authorities are studying what is being described as a cache of “highly incriminating” photographic material in which members of the far-right Golden Dawn party are allegedly depicted participating in mock executions, posing with weaponry and giving Nazi salutes.
The hoard of almost 14,000 pictures and 900 video clips – discovered in computers and mobiles phones confiscated from two MPs and a man who headed one of the group’s local branches – has been handed by police to a public prosecutor investigating the extremists’ alleged illegal activities.
“What this confirms, without a shadow of doubt, is that Golden Dawn is not only a Nazi group but a criminal organisation that operated as a paramilitary structure,” said Dimitris Psarras, the country’s leading authority on the party.
Global Power Project: Connecting Josef Ackermann, the Institute of International Finance and the Euro Debt Crisis
Josef Ackermann served as CEO of Deutsche Bank from 2002 to 2012, and over the same period served as Chairman of the IIF. Ackermann was also, and still remains, a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group and continues to serve on the IIF’s Group of Trustees, a board which includes a number of prominent central bankers including Christian Noyer, the Governor of the Bank of France and Chairman of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS); Jamie Caruana, the General Manager of the BIS; and Jean-Claude Trichet, who was the president of the European Central Bank from 2003 to 2011.
During the early stages of the financial crisis, Ackermann served as an “unofficial adviser” to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her then-Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck. In December of 2009, Ackermann was speaking at a summit in Berlin attended by Chancellor Merkel and several other German cabinet ministers, corporate CEOs and others, where he explained that while the financial crisis had largely been “abated,” many “time bombs” remained — in particular, Greece, which he referred to as the “problem child” of Europe. Ackermann blamed the debt crisis on people having “lived beyond their means for years, if not decades,” warning that pensions and health care systems would “compound the problem” in the future.
The Financial Times has referred to Ackermann as a “reluctant power broker” who “has the ear of Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful politician.” Ackermann not only became one of the most influential bankers in the world, but a major political figure as well. As he himself explained: “Financial markets now are very political – political considerations have to play an important role.” In 2011, Ackermann warned that in terms of Europe’s crisis, “I don’t see a quick economic recovery, so we will have a longer time of somewhat lower growth – certainly three to five years.”
In October of 2011, Ackermann delivered a speech in which he said that Europe had “now entered a period of deleveraging” which “will inevitably entail a long period of austerity as governments, households and firms raise their savings.” At an economic forum in December of 2011, Josef Ackermann stated that Europe had to get its debt under control, “even at the cost of national sovereignty,” suggesting that neither “the pressure of financial markets” nor austerity measures “threaten democracy.” The real threat to democracy, according to Ackermann, was the “excessive debt” of European states.
The Greek finance minister has said his country’s economy is heading “slowly towards recovery” after it saw growth in the second quarter of the year.
Yannis Stournaras said available evidence suggested Greece will see quarter-on-quarter growth for the first time since its economic crisis began.
But he stopped short of saying Greece was out of its six-year recession.
Mr Stournaras said that, overall, he expected the Greek economy to shrink by up to 3.8% this year.
That is more optimistic than the 4.2% contraction forecast by Greece’s international lenders, and a significant improvement on 2012, when the economy shrank by 6.4%.
The finance ministers comments, at a conference in Athens, reflected signs of optimism among economists around the Greek economy.
Tourism is picking up, leading to a rise in seasonal employment. Manufacturing is also showing some signs of recovery, while retail sales continue to decline, but at a slower pace than previously.
However, analysts remain cautious.
- Striking Greeks clash with police, teargased as crisis deepens (RT)
- Greece Turns to EBay-Style Auctions to Unload State Property (Business Week)
- Greece’s birthrate falls as austerity measures hit healthcare (Guardian)
- Greece’s biggest social security fund to borrow €150m to pay October pensions (KTG)
- Golden Dawn Neo-Nazi Accused of Athens Murder of Rapper KillahP (IB Times)
- Greek media outline the profile of Fyssas’ murderer; Golden Dawn sues minister, media for “slander” (KTG)
- Unchecked Violence Bound to Spread (HRW)
- Greek party leader urges residents to …lynch local mayor (KTG)
- Golden Dawn leader’s alleged driver, bodyguard arrested for illegal weapons possession (KTG)
- From 2012: Golden Dawn has infiltrated Greek police, claims officer (Guardian)
[...]The problem is that in 2014-15 Greece must still make debt payments of more than €40bn and, since the rescue programme is ending in 2014, it is not clear where these funds will come from. The government has cut spending dramatically and imposed a storm of taxes; it could also use some money left over from the borrowing of the last three years. Even so, it is highly unlikely to make up the entire sum, particularly as its own finances for 2015-16 remain uncertain. This is the immediate reason why Greece might need a fresh package, perhaps up to €20bn.
The real problem, however, is longer term. The growth potential of Greece has been devastated during the last three years, and the EU policies of cutting wages and privatising public assets at knock-down prices are making things worse. Furthermore, the rescue programme obliges the country to generate a primary fiscal surplus of 4.5% of GDP by 2016 to repay its debt. Imposing austerity on this scale in the midst of unprecedented recession is disastrous, not to mention preposterous. Under these conditions the burden of enormous Greek debt is unbearable, even at rates of 2% and with longer maturities. Interest payments alone will be roughly €7bn annually, a major charge on a shrunken GDP.
MORE RECENT NEWS FROM GREECE:
- Greek minister: Country may need extra 10 billion euros (CNN)
- ECB: Greece in need of once more, probably twice help (Press TV)
- Greek unemployment rises to record 27.9 percent in June (Reuters)
- ‘Greece suicide rate up 43% between 2007-11’ (Press TV)
- Northern Greece: 6:10 companies do not pay their employees up to 3-16 months (Keep Talking Greece)
- Greek teachers to strike over cuts (AP)
- Greek anti-terror prosecutor escapes injury in letter bomb attack (AP)
The Troika is looting Greece. They’re destroying it. They’re waging financial war. They partnered with corrupt Greek officials.
They’re strip-mining Greece for profit. It’s the epicenter of global pillage. Ordinary people have no say. They’re victims of force-fed harshness.
The more Athens borrows, the greater its debt burden, the harder it is to get out from under. Greece is dying. It’s practically a corpse already. Only its obituary remains to be written.
Official unemployment tops 27%. It’s likely higher. Youth unemployment approaches 65%. An entire generation’s lost. It’s being systematically destroyed. It’s dying on the alter of pay bankers first. Whatever they want they get.
- Greece’s Unemployment Nightmare Continues To Get Worse (Business Insider)
- Greek Consumer Prices Fall for Fifth Straight Month in July (International Business Times)
- Troika Wants Greek Homes Repossessed (Greek Reporter)
- Greek activists reconnect power to poverty-stricken homes (RT)
- Greek Villagers Chase Tax Collectors Out Of Town (Zero Hedge)
- China runs half of Greece’s ports, now ready to take over rest; along with roads and airports (RT)
Eurozone taxpayers and the IMF are left wondering what their bailout funds have been spent on in Greece. The Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) has spent EUR38bn (or 75% of its total) bolstering the capital of Greece’s four biggest banks (and winding down eight small lenders). The EUR50bn fund looks set to be drained further – despite the banks comments that costs have been cut, funds raised, and assets sold – as non-performing loans continue to surge. About a quarter of all loans are non-performing and that share is likely to increase as the country’s six-year recession, which has wiped out over a quarter of the economy, shows little sign of abating. Have no fear though, since stress tests will be carried out later this year to establish whether Greek banks have more capital needs. Of course the key question is – just where were these rescue funds diverted within the bank shells.
- Germany’s Schaeuble praises Greek economic progress (BBC)
- Wealthy Greeks forced to pay for police protection (AP)
- Greeks flee country as govt resorts to mass layoffs (RT)
- Tourists return to Greece’s summer resorts, in boost for economy (Reuters)
- Wealthy Shipowners To Bail Out Economy (Sky News)
- Greek monks defy eviction with Molotov cocktails (Independent)
Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its sixth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left about half a million people without jobs.
“Greece is still facing difficult times because the reduction of employment in the public sector is a topic that needs to be solved,” Merkel said in a press conference earlier this week.
Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its sixth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left about half a million people without jobs.
Eurozone finance ministers agreed Monday [July 8th] to unlock billions of euros in fresh aid for Greece on condition it press ahead with urgently needed reforms.
The Eurogroup ministers, holding their last meeting before the summer break which was also attended by IMF chief Christine Lagarde, agreed to pay out 6.8 billion euros in fresh aid to Athens.
However, the funds would not be handed over in one lump sum, but in different instalments subject to certain conditions being met.
Employees of Greek state broadcaster ERT held protests outside the studio of the new TV station that will soon replace them.
ERT was shut down by the government last month as part of their efforts to cut costs and reduce national debt.
The new station began transmitting on Wednesday on the channel formerly used by ERT.
It aims to be fully operational within 3 months.
by MARK MOBIUS
In June, major international equity index provider MSCI confirmed Greece’s sojourn among the ranks of “developed markets” would end later this year as it will become the first-ever country to lose its “developed market” status in the MSCI universe.1
Interestingly, Greece was classified as emerging when I started with the Templeton Emerging Markets Group in 1987, and while the recent news might conjure up images of a significant turn for the worse for the country’s economic fortunes, MSCI’s explanation for Greece’s reclassification was actually more mundane.
The division of MSCI’s equity universe into separate “developed,” “emerging” and “frontier” indexes was originally conceived in response to the arrival on the world scene of countries in various stages of economic development. In order to be classified as a developed market, a country’s gross national income (GNI) per capita has to have been at least 25% higher than the World Bank’s threshold for a country to be in a “high income” (i.e. developed) category for three consecutive years.2
That would equate to US$15,600, given the World Bank threshold stood at US$12,475 as of 2011, the latest year for which data are available. Despite several years of wrenching recession, Greek per capita GNI has been far in excess of this figure.3 Indeed, several emerging and frontier markets would meet this criterion. Therefore, MSCI’s economic development requirements for index inclusion were not the issue for Greece, but other factors relating to the ability of international investors to easily enter and operate in the market proved important.
by George Georgiopoulos
Greece’s bank rescue fund has hired Rothschild and Goldman Sachs as advisers on the sale of lenders Proton and Hellenic Postbank (TT), which are most likely to be bought by bigger Greek banks, officials told Reuters on Friday.
TT and Proton, victims of Greece’s economic crisis, were split into “good” and “bad” parts and are fully owned by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), a capital backstop with 50 billion euros ($65 billion) of bailout money.
Greece agreed with its international lenders – the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank – to sell the two banks by mid-July in order to get more bailout funds.
International lenders may freeze emergency aid to Greece for three months unless Athens can convince them that the country is on track to meet its reform goals, a senior euro zone official said on Wednesday.
“If we don’t conclude this review, I don’t see any disbursement to Greece over the next three months”,” the official told reporters, referring to a health check of the country’s progress by the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.
Euro zone finance ministers are expected to decide the issue on Monday, but the official said it was unlikely they would delay the payment.
by Tyler Durden
From time to time it is necessary to quietly sit down and assess where we are going. This is a significantly different undertaking than listening to those who try to tell us where we are going. Government and the Pastors of Propaganda are always whispering into our ears either offering Heaven or the retribution of Divine Providence so the removal of either from a deliberate consideration is a necessary part of the examination of reality.
I bring a measure of experience to this task. Things that are not counted, liabilities that are excluded from national budgets or their debts, do not mean that they do not have to be paid. This, in fact, is Europe’s greatest problem. They have played “extend and pretend.” They have played “lie and deny.” They have resorted to every trick imaginable when compiling data such as the debt to GDP ratios of the countries and yet; chicanery does not erase the debts.
The financial projections of the IMF, the EU and the ECB are never accurate or even close to accurate because they use garbage for their data. It is therefore “garbage in” and “garbage out” as they all make a mockery of themselves. The vast amount of investors continue to believe them as evidenced by the markets but certain events are now about to take place.
Greece reported out a -14.2% decline in just one month this morning for retail sales. Greek collapse III is almost at hand as their two major privatizations have failed and as their economy continues to worsen. Soon the Greeks will call for more money but the end of this road is in sight as I do not believe the nations in Europe are willing to roll over again. The IMF is also up against the wall and they have asked, I understand, for Europe to forgive part of the Greek debt which has fallen, so far, on deaf ears.
The Cyprus solution is a failure. It is as clear and as simple as that. Cyprus will have $10.17 left in their banks by the end of the year. They will soon be back asking for more money and we will have another IMF problem and a Euro fiasco as the amount of money they have been given to date is akin to a flyswatter trying to smack down an F-14. A ridiculous incident in both cases.
The biggest problem though is going to be France. They have a stated debt to GDP ratio of 90.2%. This is another mockery of the data though as the real number, liabilities included, is somewhere around double this number or just below 200%. They also have an economy that, according to “Trading Economics,” is expected to decline in the next quarter by -0.5% while their sovereign debt increases to $366.9 billion which is an increase of 9.5%. This is while their government spending rises 9.9% for the same time period. This, then not only puts them in violation of the EU’s current mandates, which is a secondary consideration, but puts them clearly on the road to insolvency.
France has run out of road.
The real issue here is a question of politics. In France being rich is defiled. That is fine and dandy except this attitude leads to an inescapable end which is with a 75% tax rate, massive amounts of workers in the government, social programs that keep increasing, and no reason to be successful and thereby support the government; those with money are fleeing the country. The drain is enormous.
Consequently sovereign revenues cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, support the imbedded costs of the country which must either be drastically cut, think massive protests or where France shows up at the door of the EU asking for help, which would be a disaster for the European Union. I believe the country is at this crossroads now as their fiscal policy, regardless of politics, is just not sustainable.
Now the investors of the world are in another reality altogether. They do not want to hear anything about these sorts of things. They are in the state of, “ignore and deplore.”
You can live there for a while. Government induced fantasies have occupied the center stage before and for some time. Our current denial of reality is fueled by all of the money that the central banks have pumped into the world but that will be diminishing as the Fed and others examine the longer term consequences of their actions. There are always consequences.
What has been put off will arrive. It was always just a matter of time.
Time is running short.
It’s good to see UEFA clamping down on the irresponsible economic basket cases of European football at long last.
European football’s governing body is finally getting to the root of the problem afflicting the continent’s major football clubs by banning from Europe … PAS Giannina. Who? Indeed.
The little known Greek club have been denied a licence to play in European competition next season. Incidentally, it was the first time the club had secured a place in Europe in their history – following their fourth-place finish in the top-flight play-offs last season.
Unless they win their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, PAS will be replaced in the competition by Skoda Xanthi, the next best-placed club who meet the body’s requirements.
[...] Are PAS really symptomatic of the gross overspending that threatens the stability of European football? Or, are they simply a club operating out of a shattered economy that has overstretched itself?
When one considers the loopholes employed by the likes of the Qatari-backed Paris Saint-Germain, it does seem to be a case of one rule for the rich and another for the poor.
PSG managed to bend UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules by signing a £500 million sponsorship deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority. But mention this anomaly to UEFA president, Monsieur Platini, and he will offer a gallic shrug and quickly change the subject.
In case you were unaware, after attending a lunch at the Elysée Palace with France’s then president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Qatari royalty, he voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. The Qataris then bought PSG, whom Sarkozy supports. Then Platini’s son, Laurent, a lawyer, was appointed as the chief executive of Burdda, a Qatari-owned sports kit company.
by Tyler Durden
As we warned earlier in the week, Greece is notably missing its Troika goals and the issue just became a lot more critical. As The FT reports, the IMF is preparing to suspend aid payments to Greece over what it claims is a EUR 3-4 billion shortfall that has opened up. Between healthcare budget shortfalls, central banks refusing to roll-over Greek bonds, and amid signs that even the scaled-back privatization plans that Athens had agreed to being behind schedule, the IMF - following its own admissions of mistakes in the Greek bailout, has warned EU officials the shortfall will require it to stop aid payments by the end of July. The equity market is already reacting (as is EURJPY – EUR weakness against the big carry pair) to this re-awakening of EU event risk (and the awkward timing with Merkel’s election so close) – with the Fed’s comfort blanket somewhat removed.
Greek state TV and radio were gradually pulled off the air late Tuesday, hours after the government said it would temporarily close all state-run broadcasts and lay off about 2,500 workers as part of a cost-cutting drive demanded by the bailed-out country’s international creditors.
The conservative-led government said the Hellenic Broadcasting Corp., or ERT, will reopen “as soon as possible” with a new, smaller workforce. It wasn’t immediately clear how long that would take, and whether all stations would reopen.
“Congratulations to the Greek government,” newscaster Antonis Alafogiorgos said toward the end of ERT’s main TV live broadcast. “This is a blow to democracy,” he added, as thousands of media workers and supporters protested the closure outside the company’s headquarters in the Athens suburb of Aghia Paraskevi.
by DEREK THOMPSON
Europe’s job market is a historic disaster.
The EU unemployment rate set a new all-time high of 12.2 percent, according to today’s estimates. But it’s the youth unemployment crisis that’s truly terrifying. In Spain, unemployment surged past 56 percent, and Greece now leads the rich world with an astonishing 62.5 percent of its youth workforce out of a job (graph via James Plunket).
‘[...] “The government is looking for an army camp in the Attica region to people who have debts to the tax authorities serving their sentences,” confirmed the Deputy Minister for Justice in the Greek Parliament. A “humane” solution, will the Government to avoid. Touch with rapists, drug dealers, murderers and other criminals
The punished Greeks will also have to work to repay their debt to the community or in agriculture: every day (compulsory) labor will thereby count as two days in jail.’ [Google Translation from Dutch]
by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson
‘Rocketing unemployment and poverty in some areas of Europe could lead to rising civil unrest, unless governments take measures to address the humanitarian consequences of austerity measures, the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned.
Bekele Geleta’s caution comes as police battle with rioters in Stockholm, where high unemployment and social deprivation in migrant communities have been blamed for a week of violence.
As Europe continues to grapple with the financial crisis, the situation for many young people is dire. More than half of under-25s are out of work in Greece and Spain. In some areas of Greece, that figure has hit 75 per cent, while in Portugal youth unemployment soared from around 30 per cent two years ago to 43 per cent now.
“If the number does not start being affected and start coming down, the more uneasy people become,” Mr Geleta told The Independent. “I don’t rule out social exclusion, tensions, uneasiness and unrest, because if people don’t have anything to do, and if people don’t see anything in the future, there is mental agitation, there is political agitation.”
Europe is experiencing its biggest depression since the end of the Second World War, with the number of people receiving food aid from the IFRC nearly doubling from 2.3 million in 2009 to 4.1 million today. Twelve per cent of Europe’s workforce is out of a job, while EU figures show that 120 million people – nearly a quarter of the bloc’s population – are at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
“The figures are not going down, said Mr Geleta. “So we are worried, and we would like to warn governments this could be a serious concern.”’
by Greg Palast
‘[...] Fat Bastard – or Theodoros Pangalos, thinks the little Greek kiddies should stop belly-aching. Pangalos, as you can see from the photo, is not bent over with hunger pains. In fact, he looks more likely to be bent over with labour pains, but in truth he probably just can’t bend over at all.
Pangalos is best known for blaming the working people of Greece for the horror and the hunger among the ruins of what was once Greece’s economy. However, it is, of course, not his fault; until last year, and through the core of the crisis, he was just Greece’s Deputy Prime Minister – why should he be held accountable for anything?
Minister Pangalos is much loved by Europe’s banking chieftains, by vulture speculators and by Prussian President Angela Merkel because they’ve got themselves a gigantic Greek who will mouth their mantra: that his nation’s sudden collapse can be blamed squarely on olive-pit-spitting, lazy-ass Greeks who won’t work more than three hours a week, then retire while they’re still teenagers to swill state-subsidised ouzo.
Pangalos leads the Fifth Column of Greeks calling to accept Germany’s terms of economic surrender: austerity, meaning cuts in food allowances, in pensions, in jobs. As of this week, more than one in four Greeks (27 percent) are out of work.’
by Helena Smith
‘Nobody knows which came first: the economic crisis tearing Greece apart or shisha, the drug now known as the “cocaine of the poor”. What everyone does accept is that shisha is a killer. And at €2 or less a hit, it is one that has come to stalk Greece, the country long on the frontline of Europe‘s financial meltdown.
“As drugs go, it is the worst. It burns your insides, it makes you aggressive and ensures that you go totally mad,” said Maria, a former heroin addict. “But it is cheap and it is easy to get, and it is what everyone is doing.”
The drug crisis, brought to light in a new film by Vice.com, has put Athens’s health authorities, already overwhelmed by draconian cuts, under further strain.
The drug of preference for thousands of homeless Greeks forced on to the streets by poverty and despair, shisha is described by both addicts and officials as a variant of crystal meth whose potential to send users into a state of mindless violence is underpinned by the substances with which the synthetic drug is frequently mixed: battery acid, engine oil and even shampoo.
Worse still, it is not only readily available, but easy to make – tailor-made for a society that despite official prognostications of optimism, and fiscal progress, on the ground, at least, sees little light at the end of the tunnel.’
‘Greece has threatened high school teachers with arrest if they go ahead with a nationwide strike that would disrupt university entrance exams that start this week, the official government gazette said.
It is the third time this year that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s government has invoked emergency law to force strikers back to work to try to show foreign lenders who bailed out Greece that the country is sticking to unpopular reforms.’
‘The European Parliament president says measures to revive the European Union’s economy and create new jobs cannot be delayed until Germany’s September elections.
“The European Union has no time to wait until the German elections,” Martin Schulz said on Friday.
Schulz further called on the EU leaders to address youth unemployment, which is especially high in southern Europe, especially in Greece and Spain.’
by Helena Smith
‘The mayor’s office in Athens is poised for a major stand-off over food handouts in Syntagma square on Thursday after the far-right Golden Dawn party vowed to press ahead with the distribution of Easter treats to “Greeks only” amid mounting European pressure for the group to be outlawed.
Pledging to defy a ban by the capital’s mayor, the extremists said they would go ahead with the handout of traditional Orthodox Easter fare, including lamb and eggs, to Greeks afflicted by draconian austerity.
“It is food that is aimed for the thousands of Greek families blighted by the genocidal policies of the memorandum,” said the party, referring to the loan agreement Athens has signed with international creditors to keep the debt-crippled country afloat.
The neo-fascist organisation said the event was aimed solely at those Greeks who could not afford to enjoy Easter because of budget cuts and record levels of unemployment.’
‘The Greek parliament has passed a bill which will see 15,000 state employees lose their jobs by the end of next year.
The bill passed by 168 votes to 123, and had the support of the three parties making up the ruling coalition.
It is part of continuing moves by the centre-right government to cut costs and ensure more bailout money from international creditors.
But it was vociferously opposed by protesters outside parliament.’
A former Greek defense minister strongly denied felony charges of money laundering against him Monday, the first day of a corruption trial against him and another 18 defendants, including his immediate family.
Akis Tsochadzopoulos, his wife Vicky Stamati, daughter Areti and another five of the suspects have spent the past year in jail awaiting the trial on felony money-laundering charges stemming from allegations of kickbacks in defense contracts.
In March, the 73-year-old Tsochadzopoulos was sentenced to eight years in prison in a separate but related trial after being convicted of filing false income declarations. The case has been a dramatic fall from grace for the former political high-flier who served as defense minister from 1996 to 2001 and development minister between 2001 and 2004. The Socialist PASOK party he belonged to dominated Greek politics for decades but saw its public support hammered over its handling of a severe financial crisis that broke out in late 2009.
At least 28 immigrants shot at Greece strawberry plantation after not being paid for six months ~ RT
Greek police are hunting three strawberry plantation foremen, who are suspected of shooting nearly 30 workers, mostly Bangladeshi, after immigrants demanded wages they had not been paid for six months.
Officials have promised “swift and exemplary” punishment for the three foremen who disappeared after the incident that took place on April, 17 in Nea Manolada, about 260km (160 miles) west of Athens.
So far police arrested the owner of the farm, in the rural south of the country and a local man on suspicion of hiding the three foremen.
The violence allegedly occurred when one of the supervisors opened fire on a crowd of about 200 foreign workers gathered to request their unpaid salaries.
According to one of the immigrants, they were promised wages of 22 euros ($28.70) a day.