Among the long trail of broken promises and hearts that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has already left for his legacy is that to hold harmless the trusting (translation: suckers) in the Diaspora who invested in their homeland and heritage and bought Greek bonds during a crushing economic crisis.
You can argue, of course, that if God didn’t want them shorn he wouldn’t have made them sheep and they got what they deserved for believing a Greek politician, who are even more clever at lying than those guys on infomercials who guaranteed you the $50 knife can cut steel only to find it won’t cut butter.
When he was out of power, Samaras, the New Democracy Uber-Capitalist leader, railed against the harsh austerity measures being imposed by his rival, then-Premier and former PASOK Anti-Socialist leader George Papandreou on the orders of international lenders. Samaras called Papandreou plenty of names too.
But it must have been a ghost ventriloquist who made him do that because as soon as he took office in June of 2012 Samaras kept hitting beleaguered Greeks with the same pay cuts, tax hikes, and slashed pensions for which he castigated Papandreou for implementing.
That was to be expected though as the only alternative to being on welfare from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) was bankruptcy, so Samaras had to do what the Tony Sopranos told him and threw in firing 40,000 public workers as a little bonus for them.
That all comes under the rubric of lying politician which essentially gives them all a pass to be able to put both feet into their forked-tongue mouths and get away with anything, knowing that the attention span of voters is shorter than the Munchkins.
If Samaras wants a good chuckle over how he stiffed the Diaspora – how many Greeks does he see when he goes to the United States who aren’t rich? – he doesn’t have to go far.
The man who put the Big Hurt on the Diaspora Suckers is sitting right next to him: his Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister/Resident Hypocrite Evangelos Venizelos, the current PASOK leader who sold out his principles and constituency to get the titles, and who, as finance chief in 2011, imposed 74 percent losses on private investors.
Samaras was so (fake, fake) upset about it at the time – when he was out of office and looking for campaign causes to rile the voters – that he said the moment he took office he would reverse Venizelos and make sure the Diaspora Suckers got their money back.
He was lying, of course, but if you believed what he said when he was running for office you can line up next to the Diaspora Suckers to take a fanny paddling and drink a dose of reality.
Once they too realized they were snookered even worse than U.S. President Barack Obama was by Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile or the Iranians who hoodwinked everyone into believing they weren’t trying to build a nuclear bomb, Greeks who held Greek bonds forced their way into the offices of New Democracy, vandalized Samaras’ photo and were sent packing with the promise he would gravely and deeply consider their plight. Then he ignored them. Again.
Some 11,000 people in the Diaspora put 3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) into Greek bonds and won’t see an iota of that for many years – and yet Greece, in the middle of stealing their money, was still considering selling another 3 billion euros in Diaspora Bonds, and should have because there’s enough suckers out there to buy them.
Greeks around the world rightfully believe there’s honor in trying to help their Greece, but put their trust in the wrong people when they believed that they would get an honest return on their investment, and for taking what they thought was a no-risk deal.
They wanted the interest on their money, of course, the same way that banks lending Greece $325 billion in two failed bailouts want theirs, and banks will get it, despite the debt write-off three years ago that hurt many of them. Their international institution agreed to it, fearing it would have been worse if Greece had failed and been pushed out of the Eurozone of 17 countries using the euro as a currency. That’s the risk they took.
A welfare state, Greece relies on the Troika to survive but the $3.9 billion it stole from the Diaspora is so insignificant that Samaras could have curried a lot more favor – and a lot more money out of them – if he’d delivered on his promise to hold them harmless as a special case.
Early in 2012, lawyers in Germany representing 110 Greek bond holders said they had formed a class action group and intended to sue banks and the Greek state following the debt write down, Reuters reported.
The Hamburg legal firm said most of the investors had spent 100,000-500,000 euros ($130,000-$653,000) on Greek paper, although the highest investment reached 3 million euros, or $3.9 million. The suit, to be filed in Washington, claimed that banks failed to properly advise clients about the risks of Greek paper and seek compensation.
Paper is the right word, as in toilet paper because that’s what the Greek bonds were worth, but at least they’re worth more than Samaras’ word.