ATHENS – Greek judges who are feuding with the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, which wans them to back the government’s policies in court rulings, don’t want to come under anti-money laundering laws and have ruled in their own favor.
The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, said judges should not comply with a ministerial decision requiring them submit their source of wealth declarations (“pothen esches”) in the same way as journalists, public servants and others.
Those declarations go before an authority checking for tax cheats and other violations but the judges said their statements should be reviewed a panel of their friends and colleagues, a three-judge panel, without explaining why that wouldn’t be a conflict of interest, nor who would review the declarations of the panel.
“No one is going to oblige us to give up our legal rights,” four judges’ unions said in a joint statement without adding that they set their own legal rights while requiring other civil servants and public workers to come under more stringent reviews.
The Council of State also said the government, which is confiscating bank accounts of debtors to the state and raiding safe deposit banks, has no right to look in the boxes nor require people to reveal how much cash they keep at home in safes or under their mattresses where many in the country keep their money, fearful the state will take it.
The government subsequently withdrew this provision, noting however that purchases in excess of 30,000 euros ($35,356) must be declared without indicating how that could be enforced in a county where many wealthy keep their money in secret foreign bank accounts to evade taxes and government scrutiny.
A ruling issued by Council of State President Nikos Sakellariou, however, deemed that judges and prosecutors don’t have to comply with the decision either, expanding their demand to be outside the law concerning money and transactions.