Varoufakis: Tsipras Wanted to Seize 17 Billion Euros in Safe Deposit Boxes

Αssociated press

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

ATHENS – Greece's former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was ousted after clashing with the country's creditors, said Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras considered having safe deposit boxes raided to seize some 17 billion euros ($19.1 billion.)

With the country teetering on the edge of leaving the Eurozone in the summer of 2015, six months after Tsipras took over, the government was desperate for money and Varoufakis claimed that Tsipras had his eyes on the big prize in safe deposit boxes, to help the state.

Varoufakis told Action 24 TV that that sources “outside Greece” that he didn't identify, had told the cash load was in the safe deposit boxes.

During an informal meeting at the Maximos Mansion, there were suggestions, “some by the prime minister,” that the government should take that money, he said, even though it would have been unlawful to confiscate the money.

“I disagreed. That is not our money, the Left does not steal,” he said. But, he added, the money could be taken in another way, if Greece gave up the euro and went back to the ancient drachma, which reportedly had been under consideration.

“I told Tsipras, the only way to take that money is to go to the drachma,” he said. “You take the money, you stamp it with indelible ink, and it is no longer euros, it is like money for a new currency,” said Varoufakis.

But the combative Varoufakis, battling constantly with the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) who put up the third rescue package that came with more harsh measures Tspiras said he would reject but them imposed, was fired by the Premier, who then sided with the lenders.

Since then, Varoufakis has – along with other former SYRIZA dissidents who quit – accused Tsipras of betraying the party's alleged principles as he adopted even more austerity than did the coalition he replaced, New Democracy and its junior partner, the former PASOK Socialists.

That has led to Tsipras and SYRIZA falling far behind in surveys with elections required to be held this year with all indications that the Conservatives, now under Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will return to power after being beaten badly twice four years ago.