Small bondholders march against Greek debt swap loss

Greek small bondholders who suffered losses from the country?s debt restructuring last month marched to parliament in Athens on Tuesday, vowing to take the government to court over the hit on their savings.

Greece completed the bulk of a mammoth debt exchange last month, reducing its public debt by about 100 billion euros.

Private creditors swapped Greek government bonds for new ones, incurring a 53.5 percent nominal writedown.

?We don?t want the haircut to hit individual bondholders, we have hired lawyers to pursue this,? said pensioner Vangelis Korelis, 70, who marched with a group of about 100 protesters to parliament and the nearby finance ministry.

About 3,200 bondholders out of an estimated 11,000 have joined forces in an association, said Korelis, who put savings into a five-year government bond that paid a coupon of 6.1 percent in 2010, better than what banks were paying depositors at the time.

?The finance ministry had said there would be some type of relief for individual bondholders but after the swap was done this was forgotten,? he said.

He said the government should offer relief on individual bondholdings up to 100,000 euros, similar to the state guarantee on bank deposits.

The government has been quietly avoiding the issue as it is set to settle a remaining 20.27 billion euros of foreign-law bonds under the swap on April 11, while also trying to get more holdouts to join in.

Relief for individual bondholders could raise issues of equal treatment.

Greece had offered tax incentives to individual investors on its bonds. Those who bought government paper no later than five days after it was issued and held on until maturity were exempt from the 10 percent tax on the earned interest.

Greek individual investors who opted for this held about 1.1 billion euros of government paper, according to official estimates.

?They tricked us,? said protester Yannis Marinopoulos, who heads the association. ?They need to find a formula to compensate us.? [Reuters]