From The Slog
Senior Athens sources last night confirmed The Slog’s blogosphere exclusive from last Monday on the subject of 70% of the income from Cretian energy and rare earth finds off Crete going into non-Greek coffers. But further evidence of bribery and energy finds in Cyprus show yet again that Greece’s sphere of Mediterranean influence is merely an unwilling prize in the ongoing energy, banking and German hegemony game.
Said a senior Greek Government consultant yesterday:
“All I know is that the Professor [minerologist Antonis Foskolos] is absolutely correct. I have the technical reports to prove it…..there is a secret deal whereby Turkey gets 40%, Greece 30%, Cyprus 20% and Brussels 10%.”
The figure most likely to both alarm and anger Greeks of all class and age groups is the inexplicable (in justice terms) award of more income from the Crete find for Turkey than Greece. But this is really nothing more than those involved in the Cyprus energy heist sharing out the spoils….and cutting out both the Americans and the Israelis. Quite a coup for Erdogan.
Hot on the heels of this news comes the announcement of a major oil find off Cyprus at region 12 – amounting to around 1.2-1.4 billion barrels….plus, very much under the table, further ECB bribery to keep the Cypriot élite sweet: some €5 bn euros in cash has been secretly flown into Nicosia. “Nobody counted or even certified the cash delivery,” said a source, ” so they don’t know in what form the five billion of cash went into Cyprus Central Bank accounts”.
While some are clearly on the take in Cyprus, the Cretian deal in particular is bound to raise questions about what senior Athens government ministers might have taken as their share of doing a deal that is, by any standards, ludicrously unfair to Greece.
Why, for instance, have the confirmations of Cretian energy and mineral finds not been used by Samaras and co as collateral with which to force the issue of debt relief for Greece? Why indeed have creditors not been offered an energy futures bond swap in return for unrepayable debt? Better a futures deal, surely, than winding up with nothing.
A lot of the key to this (apart from the usual standard issue Greek elite corruption) is the Troika itself, an organisation beyond the accountability of any elected government body. With such freedom, the Troikanauts have hired several financial consultancies, who go on to play a central role in all the eurozone bailouts….especially the Greek bailouts and the infamous Cypriot bailin.
The usual suspects are always involved: Deloitte, Ernst&Young, KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – and the end result is a “golden circle” of a dozen or so large firms with a monopoly on handling EU bailouts. They are usually hired without any public tender – sometimes despite potential conflicts of interest, which arise from links to investment funds and other financial service providers.
The case of New York-based consultancy Alvarez and Marsal is particularly intriguing. During their ‘advice’ period for the Cyprus bailin, A&M screwed up bigtime and overcharged – according to an internal audit by the Cyprus central bank board seen by the site EUobserver. But in December 2012, the Cyprus central bank chief Panicos Demetriades shortlisted Alvarez and Marsal for several new contracts.
He did so despite the fact the board had “ruled out” the consultancy due to “potential perceived conflicts of interest” related to its Bank of Cyprus evaluation.
The cash flights, bribes, backstairs deals and energy horse-trades are being organised and pushed through by further sub-contractors hired by the Golden Circle. BlackRock Solutions, for instance, stands accused by some observers of using insider knowledge after the Athens Government awarded them a contract worth €12.3 million.The Samaras regime did so because kickbacks were involved, and the Troikanauts had become so hated in Greece….so BlackRock Solutions used a fake name (“Solar”) and recruited 18 armed security guards to do its “work”. From what I could see early in 2013, this mainly involved providing armed guards for the likes of Venizelos – but Athenians know perfectly well who they were. I would point them out, and contacts there would shrug and mutter “Blackrock”.
However, the consultancy’s appointment also included subcontracting to the Big Four audit firms and having detailed knowledge of recapitalisation plans. Being the biggest asset manager in the world, that gave them a competitive advantage if they used the knowledge….for example, against close competitor Pimco….which had also been hired earlier.
But other clouds, smoke, mirrors, cloaks and daggers remain to niggle away at the credibility of the EU, other major powers, national leaders and the ECB when it comes to how and why Greece and Cyprus wound up being raped. Cyprus was, for me, an open and shut case: egged on by Wolfgang Schaüble and Mario Draghi, the EC simply removed the island’s major income source and then impoverished its major bank depositors….while Russian and Cypriot crooks and gangsters suspiciously managed to remove their money ahead of time.
Equally however, there remain inconsistencies and irregularities in the way solid Greek assets were ‘used’. A good example is its hospital infrastructure.
On 2nd October 2009, before the October 2009 Elections, the National Statistical Service of Greece ELSTAT sent to Eurostat the deficit and debt notification tables for Greek hospitals. These included an estimate of the outstanding liabilities at €2.3 billion. The new government inflated the €2.3 billion by €4.3 billion making it equal to €6.6 billion as it is described in their “Technical Report on the Revision of Hospital Liabilities” of February 2010. (This must also be viewed, by the way, in the light of Elstat whistleblowers who have since then confirmed that senior EU officials and politicians encouraged the Athens government to exaggerate the size of its fiscal problem as a whole.)The new government then tried to load all this extra €5.4 billion of hospital liabilities into one year, 2008. At first, Eurostat rejected this in writing, but later it bowed to government pressure.
This entire exercise is clearly against the European Regulations ESA95 (see ESA95 par. 3.06, EC No. 2516/2000 article 2, Commission Reg. EC No. 995/2001) and against the European Statistics Code of Practice, especially regarding the principles of independence of statistical measurements, statistical objectivity and reliability. It was also very clearly to Greece’s disadvantage: but the Papandreou Government did it. Why?
The Slog posted extensively about this at the time, and was then requoted and reblogged widely elsewhere. The reason for the overstatement was in fact very simple: the Franco-German debt exposure desperately needed ALL the eurozone members to agree to new help for Greece. The situation thus had to look as bad as possible. As I wrote soon afterwards:
‘Somewhere in the midst of these talks, Berlin requested a smaller meeting with the Greeks. At this meeting, three sources (two Greek and one German) allege, the small German delegation made an astonishing observation: the situation would “have to look more desperate” in order to justify a bailout to the other eurozone members. That is to say, only widespread fear of the entire eurozone being damaged would get the member States to pile in with bailout monies. What Berlin was really worried about, of course, was that the Franco-German banking system might collapse if Greece wasn’t saved. And at that stage, little or nothing had been done to make the sector better able to withstand a derivatives wave.’
I know that I bash on about this with every post about Greece, but those of us further West must grasp once for all the reality that Greco-Cypriot problems are dictated as much if not more by energy geopolitics and major power bank fears as they were by corrupt Greek leaders and idiotically greedy Franco-American lenders. Over the years I have pointed out the obvious sub-plot going on, but each time much of what The Slog suggested has been ridiculed or dismissed as ‘power politics paranoia’.
Unfortunately for those who said such things, I have been largely vindicated..or rather, my sources have: there is a battle for energy hegemony going on between Washington, Brussels and Moscow, there is a tug-of-war going on between Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Brussels and Israel about South-East Med mineral and gas finds, Turkey has been rewarded on the sly for toeing the NATO bollocks in relation to Syria, Recep Erdogan is proving to be an unhinged Islamist who imprisons opposing military and political leaders, David Cameron’s pro-Erdogan/anti-Israel speech of two years ago has been shown up as badly judged nonsense, Syrian intervention would have turned into Anglo-American disaster, energy has been found off Crete and Cyprus, American naval influence has scared the EU/EC axis of thuggery into action, and there is a lot going on behind the scenes of so-called Troika debt management to suggest that, as ever, this is a question of industrial scale corruption and munnneee.
It’s easy to tell from both hits and comment threads these days that Greece has become a forgotten subject for the vast majority of EU and US citizens. But I promise you, for the oil business, the spooks, the Russians and the banks, it is anything but. And don’t get me started on the Chinese.
Wake up: a fundamentally decent and solvent nation is being meat-cleavered to bits by bank interests and energy mania. For all its internally irresponsible and venal Establishment hoodlums, the real Hellenic Republic’s deficit – at 7.8% of gdp in 2009 – was grossly exaggerated and eventually emerged (in a slavishly reported BBCNews story) of November 15th 2010 – at 15.4%. But as former ELSTAT board member Zoi Georganta testified in 2011:
“….had the 2009 warnings from this Commission been been enacted even as late as Papandreou’s arrival, ‘the measures would have succeeded if they had been properly and promptly implemented without any need for a bailout….”
Berlin wanted Franco-German banks protected, but it also wanted a victim to give Germany the dominant role in eventual FiskalUnion. It has got pretty much everything it wanted, but Greece is dead in the water. This is the measure of Merkel’s genius for Weltpolitik.
Yesterday she was confirmed as the Chancellor at the head of a Grand German political alliance. A month ago, Brussels-am-Berlin told Samaras to go whistle for his promised Christmas debt relief. The German-dominated EC now has the same role as Jeremy Hunt does with NHS Trusts in England: to quietly bankrupt them – as the necessary excuse for Mammon’s gauleiters to step in.
Athens (and Nicosia) have accepted the following: falsified debt figures, a repayment schedule that is a permanent trap, endless waves of destructive austerity, terrible levels of citizen destitution, the dictatorship of banking and investment interests, German tabloid insults about the Greek work ethic, German lies about personal Greek wealth levels, reneging on various promises by the EC and ECB, economic grand larceny, depositor theft, and now a grubby share-out among its enemies of the main wealth route the Republic has out of this cynically inflicted poverty.
That this has been achieved with the active collaboration of its political élites is brutally obvious. One result of that despicable Fifth Columnism has been the rise and rise of Golden Dawn. What Greece needs above all right now is the decline and fall of Antonis Samaras. In the meantime, the hour has arrived for some real investigations of how this appalling mess really happened….and some direct action to put the New Democracy Coalition and its EC paymasters under intolerable pressure.