Greece’s former finance minister is a leather-jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding rebel — and now he’s proven it, by admitting that he used “unorthodox” methods to get into the country’s tax database.
By “unorthodox,” he means, reportedly, “authorizing a hacking.” And he doesn’t regret it.
Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister who alienated other Eurozone finance officials before resigning earlier this month and riding off into the sunset on his motorcycle with his wife, penned an opinion piece for The Financial Times admitting he hacked into the country’s tax databases.
His defense: Greece needed a plan B if Europe kicked the country out of the euro, and the only way to start planning was to figure out what Greece’s tax revenue. Varoufakis wanted to duplicate the nation’s tax reserve accounts to cancel money that is owed to the state.
In the piece, he mostly skirts past how his team planned to gain access to those tax accounts. Earlier reports indicated that Varoufakis had authorized hacking into the tax system to get the taxpayer account information.
“I understand the press’s excitement emanating from elements of that exchange, such as having to consider unorthodox means of gaining access to my own ministry’s systems,” Varoufakis wrote in the Financial Times, alluding to those reports.
But Varoufakis made an “ends justify the means” argument in his piece in the FT.
“Suppose, for example, Company A is owed €1m by the state and owes €30,000 to an employee plus another €500,000 to Company B, which provided it with goods and services. The employee and Company B also owe, respectively, €10,000 and €200,000 in taxes to the state,” Varoufakis explains in the article. “In this case the proposed system would allow for the immediate cancellation of at least €210,000 in arrears. Suddenly, an economy like Greece’s would acquire important degrees of freedom within the existing European Monetary Union.”
Also left unsaid in the latest opinion piece: Varoufakis pitched the plan behind closed doors as a way for the country to shift to a new currency “at the drop of a hat.”
“It is worth noting that, prior to Mr Varoufakis’ comfirmation of the existence of the said Working Group, the Minister was criticized widely for having neglected to make such contingency plans,” Varoufakis’s office said in a statement Monday in response to the many reports and rumors. “The Ministry of Finance did everything possible to serve the public interest against many odds. The current media campaign to besmirch these efforts will fail to dent the legacy of a crucial five month struggle for democracy and common sense.” Read more…