Debt Deals Haunt Europe: Investors Re-Examine Complex Financial Maneuvers Used to Hide Borrowings (from Charles Forelle & Susanne Craig, Wall Street Journal)
Concerns that Greece and other struggling European nations may not be able to repay their debts are focusing investor attention on another big worry: Economies across the Continent may have used complex financial transactions—sometimes in secret—to hide the true size of their debts and deficits. (...)
Deutsche Bank executed currency swaps on behalf of Portugal between 1998 and 2003, according to spokesman Roland Weichert. Mr. Weichert said Deutsche Bank's business with Portugal included "completely normal currency swaps" and other business activity, which he declined to discuss in detail. The currency swaps on behalf of Portugal were within the "framework of sovereign-debt management," Mr. Weichert said. The trades weren't intended to hide Portugal's national debt position, he said.
The Portuguese finance ministry declined to comment on whether Portugal has used currency swaps such as those used by Greece, but said Portugal only uses financial instruments that comply with European Union rules. (...) Between 1998 and 2000, Goldman structured 12 currency-swap agreements with Greece, allowing the country to lock in an exchange rate.
Greece Said to Have Arranged Swap Contracts With About 15 Banks (by Elisa Martinuzzi, Bloomberg)
Greece arranged swap agreements with about 15 securities firms and only some included payments from banks that may have helped hide the country’s true deficit, according to a person with direct knowledge of the contracts. (...) The 15 banks that have swap agreements with Greece are among the country’s so-called primary dealers, said the person. Greece had 21 dealers last year, including Citigroup Inc., Barclays Plc and Morgan Stanley, according to the country’s central bank. Spokesmen for Goldman Sachs in New York and Morgan Stanley in London declined to comment. Officials at Barclays and Citigroup in London didn’t have an immediate comment.
Soros: Euro's future in question (from Reuters)
Writing in the Financial Times, [the billionaire & currency speculator George] Soros said what the European Union needed was more intrusive monitoring and institutional arrangements for conditional assistance. He said a well organised eurobond market was desirable. "A makeshift assistance should be enough for Greece, but that leaves Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. Together they constitute too large of a portion of euroland to he helped in this way," Soro said. "The survival of Greece would still leave the future of the euro in question."
On Saturday, a magazine [Der Spiegel] reported Germany's finance ministry has sketched out a plan in which countries using the euro currency will provide aid worth between 20 billion and 25 billion euros ($27-$33.7 billion) for Greece.
Police raid Polytechnic campus in Athens - Anti-fascists clash with fascists and cops in Larissa (from "Occupied London")
At around 3am on Saturday night, cops of the “Delta force” (motorcycle cops) entered the campus of the Athens Polytechnic in the suburb of Zografou, Athens. Police do not enter university spaces unless invited by the university authorities; this usually requires evidence of a serious crime being committed on campus. Yet last night, the rector of the Athens Polytechnic, Kostantinos Moutzouris, asked the police to intervene as “he was informed” that large-scale property destruction was taking place on campus. (See more at Occupied London and Libcom)
Customs strike declared illegal (from Athens News Agency)
An Athens court on Saturday declared an ongoing strike by Customs employees as "illegal", following an injunction submitted Friday night by the finance ministry. Before the ministry tabled the injunction, finance minister George Papaconstantinou had met with representatives of the striking Customs employees, but the talks ended in deadlock after the strikers stated their unwavering determination to continue their mobilisation. The Customs employees on Friday morning extended an initial three-day strike by three rolling 48-hour strikes, as reserves at petrol stations started drying up. The customs employees throughout the country had initially launched a three day strike from Tuesday to Thursday, but decided on Thursday evening to call an additional three rolling 48-hour strikes.
The news has been coming in, one after the other: On February 12, Alfredo Bonnano and Christos Stratigopoulos had their appeal for bail rejected, despite the fact that Alfredo’s health condition is bad, and deteriorating (for background to their arrest, read the excellent piece “concerning two anarchists and a bank robbery” and the blog “After Trikala“).
Alfredo Bonnano denied bail - Anarchists receive 22 years for Mylonas kidnapping - Parody-trial of Alexis' murderers continues (from "Occupied London")
Days later, on February 17, anarchists Polys Georgiades and Vaggelis Chrysohoides were being handed convictions of 22 years and 3 months imprisonment each. The two received near to the maximum sentences allowed for the kidnapping on June 10, 2008 of Georgios Mylonas – the boss of Alumil SA, one of the larger aluminium system suppliers in Europe, and president of the Northern Greece Industrialists at the time (gaining a questonable fame with declarations such as “workers need to fasten their belts harder”). Minor technical “glitches”, such as Mylonas’ wife being unable to recognise the accused, or one of their alleged co-operators (Giorgos Haralambides, received 13 years and 6 months) being already in prison since before the kidnap, did not seem to prevent the delivery of justice. A day-by-day coverage of the trial is up at the Rioters Agency.
Meanwhile, the trial of killer cops Korkoneas and Saraliotis, assassins of Alexis Grigoropoulos, continues in the remote city of Amfissa, with the court having rejected most of Alexis’ family’s requests for witnesses to testify. Today however is the turn of N.R., the friend of Alexis’ who was standing next to him at the time of the assassination, to speak.
News from Friday 19th February (by Indymedia Germany)
* One more dead prisoner, 33 years old, in Alikarnassos jailhouse. He was found dead by human-guard during the night. The jail authorities reported that the causes of death did not come from any criminal action, but on the other hand they do not publish the reasons of it. For one more time "an investigation is in process". We know really well where such 'investigations' lead to. So many deaths of prisoners since now and nobody has ever been blamed for them. When they talk about investigations they just mean that one more file will be closed and forgotten. For lawyers or organisations for prisoners' rights contact here: firstname.lastname@example.org
* The squat (all functions of school/university are blocked) of 9th Highschool of Pireaus ended today after the promises of teachers' assembly for less repression in the future and taking away the high punishment restrictions that a pupil was sentenced. (watch older update) * Information spreading in Corfu island by Elaia Squat against state repression, after the police brutality against a woman blamed for throwing some stones to the local police station.
* The solidarity actions from AGRA's workers with Ntinos Palaistidis keep on. Beside demonstrations and condemning pesences, workers also blockade many shops of the Company. Fotos: https://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1134134
News from Thursday 18th February (by Indymedia Germany)
* Looting attack against the private car of a journalist in Patras town. At the car were caused serious damages and some flames also touched the editor's car.
* Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis announced that "up to Easter, the presence of police in Athens will rise up to levels that the citizens haven't seen before" (see also Athens News Agency) .
* 39 migrants, 27 men and 12 women, are trapped on Farmakonisi islet. The Coast Guards can not sail from Leros island because of lack in ships which can travel in the existed weather. Citizens asked from the guards to sail with their fishing boats but they could not have a licence because of the wind and the weavy sea. The phenomenon of lack in boats of the public sector for islands in Greece is something usual for years now. Also the islands' residents face lots of problems when their health is in risk but also for daily needs. Meanwhile, the greek government is mostly interested in buying cops and army equipment.
News from Wednesday 17th February (by Indymedia Germany)
* Polykarpos Georgiadis and Vaggelis Chrysochoidis charged with 22 years for Mylonas kidnapping (see above the report from "Occupied London")
* Report was published about the last day's event in Vyronas district of Athens, when during a bank robbery the pigs killed a person with 8 bullets on his back and 1 on his head. The innocent victim, Nikollas Todi 25 years old and father of a six months child, used to be close to the spot and without participation in the robbery.
* 9th High-school of Pireaus squatted by pupils because a classmate of them was expelled from the school and enforced to change school for ever after a small conflict with the chairman. The squatters condemn the behavior of the chairman who started with verbal attacks, but also during the last days rises up his authoritarianism and the repression against pupils who have certain political ideas, different dress-code etc.