Greece’s outspoken former finance minister could be about to face treason charges after he revealed details of a plot to hack taxpayer accounts in preparation for the country’s exit from the euro.
The country’s Supreme Court has referred Yanis Varoufakis to parliament, who will vote on whether to strip him of his immunity from prosecution. Five separate suits have also been filed against a team of five economists, including James Galbraith, who were allegedly drafted in by Varoufakis to hatch the plan.
The Times reports that all those implicated face charges including breach of privacy and operating as a criminal gang. Varoufakis also faces charges of high treason, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
The motive behind the charges is questionable, however, as Varoufakis was becoming the standard bearer of the left wing opposition to the new Eurozone bailout deal imposed by the troika [EU, IMF, European Central Bank]. He has described the deal as Greece’s “terms of surrender” and “fiscal waterboarding”. He is also rumoured to be setting up a challenge to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s leadership in the event of a no confidence vote or early election.
Now he has been singled out for charges of treason for something which he said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also knew about before their Syriza party came to power.
Mr Varoufakis revealed the plans during a teleconference call with investors two weeks ago, soon after he had resigned his position in the Greek government. He claimed to have hired a computer expert for a six-month project to hack tax codes of state employees and then transfer them onto a private computer so they could be quickly paid if Greece suddenly set up its own currency.
He said he needed to do this in secret because the data he needed was handled by the Greek tax agency which he alleged “is controlled fully by the troika”.
The Official Monetary and Financial Institution Forum, who hosted the call, released a recording of it, thus implicating Varoufakis.
The European Commission dismissed the claim the troika controls the tax agency, saying they “only provide technical assistance and do not control the secretariat.”
MPs from the opposition conservative New Democracy party have demanded Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras explain the affair, especially as Varoufakis claimed he had asked him to do this before their Syriza party won power.
Anna Asimakopoulou, a leading member of New Democracy, said:
“The working assumption was that the government was operating all this time with the interest of keeping the country in the euro.
“Learning that it wasn’t is troubling. What’s more, these revelations leave open the question of whether this plan has been scrapped or just shelved. We need to know.”