Accusations of Treason in the Greek Parliament
[Note* A day after writing this article, I was provided with a press release from IJ Partners that denies any involvement on their part with the accusations made below by Mr. Kammenos against the Greek Prime Minister. The firm also denies ever having purchased credit-default swaps on Greek bonds. The release does not directly address the accusations of Dr. Tombras and Mr. Noulas.]
Leaving aside for a moment the obvious questions of criminality and treason that have arisin from the details of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Greek government and the Troika (IMF/EU/ECB), which concedes total sovereign authority of the Greek state over the fate of its own citizens to foreign banks, let us turn to recent allegations made in Parliament against the Prime Minister of Greece himself, George Papandreou.
Recently, in an interview on Greek television, Member of Parliament for New Democracy, Mr. Panos Kammenos, made allegations that if true, could very well constitute treason for the Greek Prime Minister, members of his staff and possibly members of his own family. These allegations were repeated by Mr. Kammenos on the floor of parliament and given support by the leader of LAOS, Mr. George Karatzaferis. These allegations are therefore, not made lightly, and have now been plainly put forth before the Greek people. They can no longer be ignored, and the Prime Minister is obliged to respond to them.
The gist of the allegations rest on the charge by Mr. Kammenos, that the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. George Papandreou and members of his team, presided over the sale of 1.3 billion dollars worth of credit default swap contracts (CDS on Greek sovereign debt) on or around December of 2009, shortly after coming to power. The 1.3 billion dollars worth of insurance protecting against a Greek default was bought during the spring and summer of the same year, by the Hellenic Postbank, a public banking arm of the Greek government. It is unclear what the intentions of the Postbank were when it purchased the credit protection. Clearly, the previous government that was in power at the time (New Democracy or N.D.) understood that Greece was headed towards a fiscal crisis, otherwise they would not have purchased the insurance. However, we do not know if the move was initially made with the intention of reaping private profit, or simply as a hedge by the government itself against it’s own default.
[*Note: There seems to be a discrepancy between the numbers cited by Mr. Kammenos and those cited by Mr. Tombras in his law suit. Specifically, the subject at issue is the notional value of the CDS purchased and then sold by Hellenic Postbank. The size of the bank’s balance sheet would not warrant as large a hedge as the 60 billion in notional CDS (implied by Kammenos), which would imply that either the bank was net-short it’s own government’s debt, or that some mistake has been made by those looking over the books. After a bit of contemplation, I find the 1.3bn dollar notional number (the total amount insured against) more plausible, though this would suggest an accounting error on Mr. Kammenos’ part. This would affect the profit potential for the position, but would not change the fundamental fact that insurance protection was sold from public to private hands. – i.e. it has no bearing on the allegations]
Leaving this uncertainty aside for now, we know that, so long as the credit protection remained at the Hellenic Postbank of Greece, the CDS contracts would function as insurance against the type of “credit events” that would transpire over the following twelve months. Indeed, the very insurance that was being held in public coffers by the Hellnic Postbank, is today worth approximately 27 billion dollars according to numbers cited by Mr. Kammenos on multiple occaisions. Considering that Greece is now under duress to raise collateral for its “bailout” money, 27 billion dollars would go a long way towards preventing the privatization and sale of the nation’s assets to foreigners (this figure assumes a partial default and subsequent payout). Unfortunately, the Greek government is no longer in possession of this 27 billion worth of CDS, because it sold them in December of 2009, for a paltry 40 million dollar profit. According the Mr. Kammenos, the contracts were sold to a private firm for “high net-worth individuals” founded in 2009, by the name of IJ Partners.
IJ Partners, based in Geneva, has a number of well-known Greeks who serve as either managing partners or members of the board, including former IMF economist Miranda Xafa (who intermediated Greece’s dealings with the IMF), former CEO of Piraeus Bank (one of the banks named in a law suit as shorting Greek government bonds during the period in question) and Theodore Margellos, the well-known exporter who was accused of falsely passing off imported corn from Kosovo as Greek produce. I should also note that according to Mr. Kammenos’ accusations, the firm’s Vice President, Mr. Jose-Maria-Figueres, shares board membership on a separate NGO with none other than the Prime Minister’s own brother, Mr. Andreas Papandreou Jr.
Unfortunately, the story gets much worse. Around the time that the Hellenic Postbank of Greece sold these CDS, the Prime Minister’s office was consulting with the International Monetary Fund about how to proceed with what eventually would become the notorious 110 billion dollar Greek bailout package. News of these discussions had not yet leaked, and the Prime Minister had yet to address parliament on the matter. In addition, credit markets had yet to uncover the extent of the impairment to Greece’s national balance sheet, as the country’s bonds were still trading at below 200 basis points spreads from German bunds. In practical terms, this meant that anyone fortunate enough to have bought Greek CDS during this period would be in a position to make an absolute fortune. It also means that anyone who owned, or had a stake in Greek CDS stood to benefit directly from either a Greek default, or the perception that a default was increasingly possible, since this would drive up the price of credit protection, and thus the value of Greek CDS.
Implicit in these most recent and quite damming accusations therefore, is that the Prime Minister not only arranged for, facilitated and possibly forced the sale of a national asset to a private firm that he or members of his family had a personal stake in, but that he also did so during a period where he knew that the value of this asset would rise substantially. In fact, his own words and actions had the potential to positively affect the outcome.
If you will recall, it was during this time that George Papandreou decried the role of speculators in driving up the yields on Greek debt, by trading the very CDS contracts that he has now been accused of selling (and possibly buying through IJ Partners). Rising bond yields caused by such speculation single-handedly pushed Greece into the clutches of the IMF. If it were not for being priced out of the bond market, Greece would not be in the position that it finds itself in today.
And yet, in addition to all the things that I just mentioned, during this period where Greek bonds were being sold short (in some cases using naked short selling in order to create an artificially high supply, thus unfairly driving down the price of the nation’s bonds) by the major banking institutions in Europe and the United States (including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, RBS, HSBC, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Societe General, etc.), the Central Bank of Greece quite curiously decided to change the legal settlement period for shorting government bonds from 3 days to 10 DAYS. This had the ostensible effect of aiding naked short sellers who were able to keep their positions against Greek national debt open longer, thus driving down the price of the country’s bonds, spiking it’s yields, and pumping up the price of Greek CDS.
The criminal implications of this accusation are so immense that I cannot begin to contemplate what the punishment should be if it were proven to be true. What I can say is that Mr. Kammenos, despite the fact that he has put himself in a very precarious position by exposing this fraud in the public domain, is NOT THE ONLY ONE MAKING THE ACCUSATION. In fact, I had first read about the role of the Central Bank of Greece in this entire affair from a legal document produced by Dr. Kyriakos Tombras and Mr. George Noulas over 1 year ago. Unfortunately, the allegations seemed so damning that, at the time, I had a hard time coming to grips with their implications.
Given the particular urgency of the moment (new terms are being negotiated as we speak that could lead to further destruction of the Greek Nation), I feel that an answer to these allegations must be provided. As I said before, this is not the first time that we have heard of these accusations, and in all that time, their substance has not once, to my knowledge at least, been addressed by the Prime Minister, George Papandreou. At the very least, something feels very wrong here. If Mr. Papandreou himself was not involved in these actions, then he should know who is. Transactions of this magnitude do not simply go unnoticed to senior members of government.
This is a very urgent moment for the country. Terms of national surrender are being negotiated abroad as we speak that have existential implications for Greece herself. Her borders, her mineral and resource rights and the social and culture lining of her very womb are at stake. The Greek military budget is being gutted under the terms of the memorandum, just as Turkish ships are reportedly increasing their oil and gas exploration efforts off the Aegean coast and as the EU has moved to, yet again, challenge the national borders of Greece with the recognition of the European Federation of Western Turks of Thrace. The groundwork is being laid for the existential destruction of the Greek nation through diplomacy, debt, and who knows, even physical occupation at some point in the not to distant future.
This cannot stand. Greeks cannot and must not allow this treason to stand any longer. The memorandum signed in May of last year is null and void. It was treasonously conceived and illegally passed in direct violation of the Greek constitution. Our government cannot be trusted, and many of our “leaders” may very well be working on behalf of their own best interests and on behalf of the interests of foreign agents intent on stripping Greece of the VERY SOVEREIGNTY that her founders worked so tirelessly to ensure during the revolution against Ottoman rule and subsequent German occupation.
I don’t know what else to say. There is nothing left to say. Defiance is the only course of action left at this point. Greeks cannot trust their own leaders to protect that which is rightfully theirs. George Papandreou wishes to return from this weekend’s negotiations bearing “gifts” from the Troika that are nothing but ticking time bombs. Our country is being sold down the Rhine for morsels of bread.
I cannot stand to watch this continue for any longer.