Returning to the events in 2015 that led to a bank holiday and capital controls in Greece on his watch, the country’s former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on Wednesday announced that he had officially requested the European Central Bank (ECB) to release information regarding the decisions made during this period.
Speaking during a press conference with German Die Linke MP Fabio di Masi at the European Parliament, Varoufakis said he had specifically asked the ECB to make public the legal opinion of a private firm it had consulted, on which it had based decisions that starved Greek banks of cash and forced the bank holiday.
When the ECB made the decisions involved, ECB President Mario Draghi had asked a private legal firm for advice because he was uncertain whether he was legally empowered to make such a decision, Varoufakis said. The firm’s legal opinion was then never made public and the ECB was now refusing to do so, citing reasons of confidentiality.
During the presser, Varoufakis asserted that the ECB, while nominally independent, was actually fully dependent on the decisions of the Eurogroup, which was an informal group of finance ministers with no official capacity under European treaties.
De Masi said that a process to collec signatures in support of the petition was underway, with 25,000 collected so far, to request the release of the information under freedom of information acts. It this request was also denied, he added, the matter would go to court where there was a “good chance” of winning.
“This is not just about Greece. It also concerns Ireland and Cyprus. It must be answered to what extent the ECB is empowered to intervene in such a way and at the same time provide liquidity with the aim of forcing governments to cut wages and pensions,” he said.