Nikos Chountis, a Member of the European Parliament from Greece’s major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) challenged the competency of Eurozone chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem for his support of partially confiscating the bank accounts of Cypriots to help pay for a bailout for the country’s battered economy.
Chountis also accused Germany of being behind what he said were Draconian measures leveled at one of the European Union’s smallest members. He said the decision to tax bank accounts was disastrous.
He also blistered German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble for being tough on Cyprus and suggested it was part of a hidden plan to drive capital to Germany or countries such as Luxembourg, which, like Cyprus, are favored by the rich to hide their deposits from taxes.
Chountis asked Dijsselbloem to disclose in which bank he deposits his salary so that other depositors follow his example, making the point that if such a policy comes into practice it will be a bad example and it may be applied again in other countries hurting the credibility of the banking system.
Dijsselbloem said Cyprus had no choice but to seize part of the bank accounts of depositors to pay for a crisis their banks created without explaining why it was fair. Cypriot banks lost 4.5 billion euros ($5.84 billion) in bad loans to Greek businesses that went belly-up during that country’s economic crisis and their large holdings in Greek bonds that were devalued 74 percent by the Greek government to make investors pay for a crisis they hadn’t created either.