Commenting on the meeting between Greece’s Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis with Britain’s George Osborne this morning, Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign said:
“Greece’s debt comes from loans to bail out banks and vulture funds across Europe, including in Britain. In 2012 the UK government refused to stop vulture funds that were using UK law to pillage Greece’s finances. George Osborne should now show leadership and support the cancellation of Greece’s debts that is urgently needed.”
“The costs of any cancellation should be borne by recovering money from the irresponsible lenders who really benefitted from the bailout, the banks and financial speculators.”
In 2010 British banks were responsible for 8 per cent of European bank loans to the Greek government. This was the fourth highest of any European country, after Germany, France and Belgium.
The UK also enabled vulture funds to make exorbitant profits out of Greek debt following the debt restructuring in 2012. Vulture funds bought up €6.5 billion of debt at far below its face value which was owed under UK law. The Greek parliament passed legislation to enforce the agreed debt reduction on all bonds held under Greek law, but George Osborne refused to do the same. The vulture funds have continued to be paid in full, making a huge profit on the amount they bought the debt for. This was effectively profit being given to the vultures by the IMF, EU and ECB, which has left a debt for the Greek people.
The costs of any debt cancellation would be spread over several years. Similarly, any taxes introduced on banks and speculators to recover the money could also be spread over several years.
Jubilee Debt Campaign’s ‘Six key points about Greece’s debt’ is available here