Greek PM takes aim at big-time debtors


Under pressure from within his party following the resumption of property foreclosures, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday asked Greek bankers to take a hard line on major debtors and strategic defaulters.

In a meeting with top representatives of the Hellenic Banks Association (EET) at his Maximos Mansion office, Tsipras asked bankers to “chase the big-timers who have managed to bankrupt their businesses while remaining wealthy themselves by taking their money abroad and not paying their debts.”

He also urged Greek bankers to put a stop to the dissemination of “fake news” regarding foreclosures on homes of Greeks on low and medium incomes, stressing that contrary to some media reports, the government has ensured that no primary residences will be put under the hammer. Remarking to the bankers that they are the ones funding Greek media organizations, the premier said they should not tolerate lies, according to sources.

Tsipras also called for the creation of an “observatory” that would would determine which property foreclosures should be prioritized.

The aims are to restore Greek banks’ original role as lending institutions, to protect the most vulnerable and to give opportunities to young Greeks, Tsipras said.

“Liquidity needs to be restored to the economy, to healthy businesses, and households need to be supported,” Tsipras said.

“We need a responsible and effective way to deal with the problem of nonperforming loans,” he added.

According to Hellenic Banks Association sources, the banks’ representatives stressed that the lenders’ managers were aware of their social responsibility and the importance of liquidity for maintaining stability in the economy. Foreclosures are a necessary if unpleasant measure that has resulted in a number of strategic defaulters coming forward to settle their debts, the EET sources said.

They added that banks are doing their utmost to design manageable payment schemes for customers who are struggling to meet their obligations.