OPINION

Exposing the invisible MPs

The retrospective inspection of Greek deputies’ declarations of assets for 1989-2001 confirmed a widespread public impression about the political establishment. Although they are far from complete, the figures that were made public yesterday are quite revealing. Naturally, among the ranks of our parliamentary representatives are individuals that were affluent before they became politicians. More interesting, of course, is the category of politicians whose private wealth increased substantially after they entered the political domain. Some politicians increased their holdings at a rate that is not justified by MPs’ admittedly lavish incomes. Even the tightest saving efforts could not account for the purchase of real estate and numerous accounts that in some cases are worth millions of euros. Data on the stock market activity of former and current deputies shows clearly that the majority of them succumbed to the frenzy that swept across the country in 1999. Many lawmakers invested huge sums of money. To be sure, it’s not individuals that lost money who should detain us here. After all, they suffered the same fate as 99 percent of small and medium-sized investors. It is common knowledge that the bourse degenerated into a manipulated game of speculation. For certain, only a small number of so-called amateur investors managed to make big profits in the stock market heyday. Besides, only those who state both their profits and losses are being sincere. The names of professional speculators are absent from the lists that were made public yesterday. Their connections with major bankers and entrepreneurs provided them with inside information which they exploited through invisible paths such as offshore companies. Some even enjoyed sufficient leverage to influence the Athens bourse with their own decisions. As usual, the political and economic market knows more than what can be backed up by evidence. The public instinct is rarely wrong. The invisible are more exposed than they think.