Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ,taking the floor in Parliament, launched an attack against SYRIZA and the Financial Times on the issue of money laundering, regarding the changes in penal codes.
The prime minister went after the Financial Times, as this was where SYRIZA based its criticism: “… it is regrettable that, while the Parliament provides answers, a Financial Times publication is brought up – the validity of which the government rejects, as it did not respond to reality – that it mistakenly argued that extending the freezing of assets of individuals under investigation for dirty money laundering is a subject that can be decided upon within three months. The post was wrong, Mr. Tsipras. This is sometimes the case with journalists in the Finance Departments. What can we do? You were in such a rush, Mr. Tsipras, you and SYRIZA to identify with the post. A foreign journalist may be mistaken regarding a Greek law, but not a politician; and in particular the Chief of the Main Opposition, who should have read it”.
Responding to the accusation by Alexis Tsipras that the new penal codes “favor the looters with the white collars”, Mr. Mitsotakis spoke of boosting entrepreneurship, which would lead to favorable conditions for bank executives, shipowners and entrepreneurs, which would be favored by the new provisions.
Summing up his response to Alexis Tsipras’ timely question, Mr. Mitsotakis supported the provisions regarding the cessation of ministers’ past offenses, invoking retroactivity, changing the method of prosecution for bank executives (so that it only happens in the case of an appeal) with the excuse of boosting entrepreneurship; as for the reimbursement of frozen funds for individuals accused for money laundering, he invoked the impasse small businesses find themselves facing, as they cannot pay their obligations vis-à-vis to their employees, since their funds would be frozen.
More specifically Mr. Mitsotakis mentioned: “… I now turn to the specific three questions you asked. You ask us once again why we did not adopt the interpretative statement in Article 86 on the responsibility of ministers … But again, your interpretative statement was aimed at something different- and I would like for you to make it clear – such as the resurrection of offenses for which the deadline for payment or prosecution has expired; tell us if you would like to do this, if you are planning on doing so. If this is the case, please explain how this does not tear down every aspect of the State of Law, because it would quite simply lead to a retroactive implementation of criminal law and erode a cornerstone of the law that has been in force ever since the 17th century.
He continued with the issue of prosecuting bank executives on appeal and not ex-officio, saying: “Conducting investigations on prosecutors through ex officio initiatives is outdated. In practice, it proved detrimental, especially to citizens … it led to bankers taking on a completely defensive disposition against initiatives, such as a flattering debt settlement. It is precisely this lack of movement, which “stops everything” that the new regulation has come to avenge… Banking is controlled through a specific set of rules, by specific institutions; it is primarily controlled by the Bank of Greece”.
He then went on to defend the bank curators who were sued for loan infringements: “Many bank advisers collapsed in court, falling victims to many years of business decisions they made. Making a loan is a business decision the bank makes”. He attacked SYRIZA, saying that “with all your measures, businesses were being destroyed and workers were being left unemployed”, while he sought to find an excuse for the sparing growth arrangements: “we got this mandate from the Greek people: to start the production engine of the economy, to fix the black spots of the banking system, to attract investment, to create jobs. And that is what we will do”.
On the latter issue of the freezing of assets by the Anti-Money Laundering Authority, Mr, Mitsotakis argued that the most stringent provision hitherto applied not only to ‘gray’ businessmen, but also to many ordinary citizens who became financially trapped, and the New Democracy government released them … Subsequently, he said that “we therefore projected, fully following the Legislative Committee’s proposals, that asset freezing from now on could not exceed 18 months”. /ibna