During Crisis, Greek Pols Touch Savings

Their riches our blood

ATHENS – While Greece’s crushing economic crisis and deep recession – about to enter a seventh year – has created record unemployment and poverty, the political leaders blamed for creating it have mostly kept big incomes and properties, although a number have cut into their savings, statements on their required declarations of wealth – poten esches in Greek – showed.

The data came from 2011, before the June 2012 elections. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, who declared an income of 128,184 euros, and his wife reduced their savings by 24,000 pounds sterling and $12,800 but also transferred the deposits they had abroad, totaling 266,304 euros, to National Bank in Greece.

The information showed the politicians continue to prosper overall even as many said they dipped into their savings. Their wealth also showed the great divide in the country, which has seen social unrest over big pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions insisted upon by Greece’s rescuers, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is footing much of the bailout bill.

Samaras and his family had a total income of €180,710 in 2011 – or €15,059.16 a month. He said he made €99,854 from his parliamentary salary €28,329 from other sources, while his wife Georgia made €52,525. A civil engineer and the elder daughter of industrialist Akis Kritikos, owner of the Kyknos canning company, Georgia Samaras is defined as an “MP’s wife” on state statement.

In addition, the couple declared total bank deposits of €297,675.38 and GB£983.30.

The statement also shows that Samaras only paid tax on 36% of his parliamentary income, with the largest share, some €63,089.80, remaining tax free.

Samaras, who was leader of the opposition in 2011, also stated that his real estate portfolio remained unchanged that year, with 13 properties registered in his name and seven in his wife’s.

Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos – whose PASOK party was in power in 2011 – declared 94,310 euros, while he and his wife, who own 27 properties, saw their deposits fall from 2.3 million to 1.8 million euros.

His wife, Vasiliki Bakatselou, earned €55,607 according to the statement. The Venizelos family said they had 27 bank accounts, containing a total of €1,633,054, GB£84,444 and US$129,000, and 11 properties.

Independent Greeks chief Panos Kammenos declared an income of around 156,000 euros in 2011, with close to half of that amount coming from the rental of property he owns. His deposits, however, fell from 11,000 euros to around 2,000.

Kammenos, who was then a New Democracy MP, declared €86,088.04 in income from his parliamentary work, of which €22,031.72 was taxable. Along with his wife, he declared rental income of €75,600, while his wife declared €9,979.91 in earnings from her law practice. In total, the couple’s declared earnings were €171,667.95.

The information posted on the Parliament’s website had one shocking number for a politician and it came from a member of the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Dimitris Tsoukalas, who said he received a one million euro lump sum from a private pension fund in which he had invested.

SYRIZA, which opposes the terms of bailouts that have brought in $325 billion from international lenders, but also harsh austerity measures, rails against the rich regularly and blames capitalism and the lust for money as the source of the country’s evils.

No word on that from party leader Alexis Tsipras – who reported an income in 2011 of 74,000 euros but said he had only 100 euros in the bank. He declared ownership of only one property, a 114-square meter apartment in Athens. The return makes no mention of the 650cc motorbike he declared in 2010.

Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis, who is pushing for investment in Greece, is doing some of his investing in London where he said he bought an apartment for 1.3 million euros before returning to Greece.

Four members, including spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, of the ultra-far super-extreme right Golden Dawn party, six of whom have been arrested on charges of operating a criminal gang – including leader Nikos Michaloliakos who remains in detention with two of them pending trial – said they zero income two years ago.

Michaloliakos and his wife Eleni Zaroulia, also an MP, appear to have simply duplicated the information on each other’s forms.

Former prime minister George Papandreou, who resigned two years ago after relentless protests, strikes and riots against big pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions he implemented on orders of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) said he had a 2011 income of €102,038.67  and €718,78 in additional earnings.

Along with the €4,578.94 that his wife made, the couple earned a total of €107,336.39. He is now an MP and earns additional income on the speaking circuit preaching about the country’s crisis and downfall and teaching at Ivy League colleges in the United States.