Greece seeks ‘explanation’ from IMF over WikiLeaks claim

Greece seeks ‘explanations’ from IMF for WikiLeaks claim on seeking crisis “event” to push nation to conclude talks over its reforms

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A piggybank painted in the colours of the Greek flag stands amongst various euro coins in front of letters spelling the word 'GREECE' in this picture illustration taken in Berlin, Germany June 30, 2015.

Updated Apr 3, 2016

WikiLeaks said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sought a crisis “event” in a plot to push the indebted nation into concluding talks over its reforms on Saturday, leading Greece to demand “explanations” from the lender.

The leaked teleconference on the independent website detailed that IMF officials voiced exasperation with Greece on its slow pace of reform, complaining that Athens only moved decisively when faced with the peril of default.

One official purportedly said that an “event” was thus needed to drive the threat of default and get the Greeks to act.

The transcript, which was placed on the WikiLeaks website on Saturday, does not describe the “event.”

The official predicts that the European Union will stop discussions for a month before Britain’s EU referendum on June 23, in an assessment of the state of the talks and the political calendar.

The Greek government said that it wanted the IMF to clarify its position, reacting strongly to the report.

"The Greek government is demanding explanations from the IMF over whether seeking to create default conditions in Greece, shortly ahead of the referendum in Britain, is the fund's official position," spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said in a statement.

According to the transcript, the teleconference took place on March 19 this year.

Iva Petrova and Delia Velculescu, who have been representing the IMF in negotiations with Greece, along with Poul Thomsen, director of the Fund’s European Department, are listed to take part in the conversation.

Thomsen voices exasperation with the slow pace of talks on Greek reforms between Greece and its international lenders in the leaked document.

"In the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when [the Greeks] were about to run out of money seriously and to default," he reportedly says.

"I agree that we need an event, but I don't know what that will be," Velculescu allegedly replies later in the conversation.

She also stated that Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem is trying to "jump start" a discussion on debt but "not to generate an event."

Mission chiefs from the EU, IMF, European Central Bank and European rescue fund -- all Greece’s international lenders -- are due to resume on Monday a reforms audit as part of the country’s latest bailout.

The IMF worries that estimates drawn up by the EU and Greece do not add up, leaving the institutions to clash over their assessment of the current state of the Greek economy.

Athens is under pressure to address the large number of non-performing loans burdening Greek banks and to push forward with a pension and tax overhaul resisted by farmers and white-collar staff.

The IMF has yet to officially sign onto Greece's latest bailout and is making its participation conditional on the fact that no ground is yielded on the reforms needed by Athens, especially on pensions.

Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has accused the IMF of employing "stalling tactics" and "arbitrary" estimates to delay a reforms review crucial to unlock further bailout cash.