Journalism is under attack in Greece: today, Kostas Vaxevanis appeared in court for publishing a controversial list of over 2,000 Greek residents with accounts in a Swiss bank. The Greek government had the list for two years and did nothing with it; another five EU countries reportedly brought in 10bn euros using information obtained from the same bank.
Then, two television presenters on state NET TV were “suspended until further notice” because they had said Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias had got it wrong when he said torture accusations made by 15 antifascists against the police were false.
Dendias had said that medical reports to be published would show that no torture took place. The problem for him was that the forensic experts documented injuries that supported the victims’ claims of torture, something that the presenters, Kostas Arvanitis and Marilena Katsimi, dared suggest showed that Dendias was talking through his hat.
Amid this climate, the following news wire was put out by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, Greece’s semiofficial news agency claiming that Greece is now a “model country” for the way it deals with money laundering.
I’m publishing it here verbatim, as it’s unlikely to appear in any media anywhere in English (although some newspapers have run the original Greek version).
The reaction from people I’ve shown to already has been laughter and disbelief. No Greek can or will take this report seriously.
Greece no longer ‘problem’ country vis-a-vis money laundering, corruption
Greece not only has stopped being considered a “problem” country with respect to money laundering and corruption since June 2011, but according to official data of the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), but is also considered a model-country as regards the framework and organisation of its mechanisms for clamping down on money laundering, a document from Areios Paghos (Supreme Court) deputy chief prosecutor and the Independent Authority on money laundering and audit of assets statements Panagiotis Nikoloudis that was submitted to parliament on Monday said.
The document, submitted in reply to a question tabled by Independent Greeks MP Maria Kollia-Tsarouha, also cited newer statistics for 2012, which Nikoloudis said “are not ready to be announced yet but are specific and convincing, and allow the thought that soon the image of Greece will change abroad, and chiefly the way that the state acts in the specific areas”.
The independent authority chief also submitted to parliament, in his document, figures concerning the clampdown on money laundering and corruption in 2011, noting that the independent authority had investigated and identified 162 cases of money laundering, which it forwarded to the authoritative prosecutors, and at the same time seized a “criminal product” of 223,982,146 euros.
Comparing this to other EU countries, the document said that Belgium — which is acknowledged as having the best organized and equipped unit — had seized a total of 22,223,656 euros, while Portugal, which was about the same size as Greece, had seized 30,077,972 euros whereas much larger Spain had seized the sum of 12,398,000 (in 2005) and Britain, with its SOCA unit, had seized a criminal product of 327,600,000 euros.