Blame Cyprus (For Current Greek Unpleasantness)

Or Cypriots Dinos and Michalis Michaelides, who were very bad.
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After the first (and second and third) big Greek crisis (crises) but before this one, there was Cyprus, the plucky little island that went without banks for a while until the EU decided not to let it sink into the Mediterranean. Before any of that, though, Cyprus—well, two Cypriots, to be exact, one of them is a former interior minister, the other his son—were setting the stage for Greece’s current unpleasantness: Dinos and Michalis Michaelides played middlemen is a kickback scheme under which Greece bought Russian missiles, and Greece’s then-defense minister got a whole bunch of money (as well as missiles) in return. Which ex-defense minister was a founding member of Greece’s now-discredited Socialist Party, which never got less than 38% of the vote from 1981 through 2009, but which last month polled a whopping 4.7%, in no small part because of people like former Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos were living like kings on Russian bribes while his party was imposing a not-too-popular policy called austerity on everyone else, which made many Socialist voters decide that a 40-year-old former Communist wasn’t such a bad guy to serve as prime minister after all.

Long story shot, Dinos and Michalis are now joining Akis in prison, which Greece apparently still has enough money to keep open for now.

Dinos Michaelides and his son Michalis were found guilty of money laundering and each sentenced to 15 years in prison, court officials told Reuters….

Tsohatzopoulos was jailed in 2013 for tax fraud and taking kickbacks for the arms deals. Details of lavish spending that emerged during his trial helped make the corruption case a symbol of the injustice felt by ordinary Greeks, who have seen pensions and wages cut during the economic crisis.

Cypriot ex-minister and son jailed in Greece over arms kickbacks: court [Reuters]

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