The European Commission on Tuesday (28 July) sharply denied claims by Greece’s ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis that creditors overseeing Greece’s bailout also controlled the country’s tax agency.
Varoufakis made the claim in a leaked conference call with London investors, during which he said he had been secretly building a parallel money system that involved hacking into his ministry’s computers because they were controlled by the creditors.
“On what Mr Varoufakis has been saying, the allegations that the troika was controlling the secretariat general of public revenues are false and unfounded,” Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told a news briefing, referring to the creditor “troika” of the Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
“The secretariat general of public revenue is a quasi-independent entity, responsible for tax administration that is formally part of the ministry of finance,” she said.
“The Commission and IMF only provide technical assistance to the tax administration but certainly do not control (the agency),” she added.
“Alleging that the troika would be controlling the secretariat […] is simply not true.”
Secret plan in case of Grexit
The controversial Varoufakis resigned the day after Greeks voted against creditor bailout terms in a referendum on 5 July.
The government later accepted even harsher terms in a deal at an all-night eurozone summit on 12-13 July.
In a series of shock revelations, former economics professor Varoufakis told investors he had been secretly planning for a parallel system of liquidity that could allow a Greek exit from the euro “at a drop of hat”.
But Varoufakis said that in order to build the system, he was forced to work in secret as the access to the private data needed was handled by the tax agency which “is controlled fully and directly by the troika”.
“It was not under control of my ministry […] it was controlled by Brussels. The general secretariat is appointed, effectively, through a process that is troika-controlled and the whole mechanism within,” he said.
The revelations involving Varoufakis overshadowed the start of work in Athens between the Greek government and its international creditors on launching a third bailout programme for Greece by mid-August.
“I don’t think the Commission will engage into looking into any conspiracy plans,” Andreeva said when asked further about the Varoufakis accusations.
“It is important not to look into the past, but the future,” she said.