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WikiLeaks says IMF believes Greek default could coincide with Brexit vote

Published 02/04/2016

The UK is to vote on whether to remain in the EU
The UK is to vote on whether to remain in the EU

The International Monetary Fund anticipates a possible Greek default on its bailout will co-incide with the UK's referendum on Europe, according to a leaked transcript.

WikiLeaks said it had obtained details of a discussion last month between the top two IMF officials in charge of managing the Greek debt crisis - Poul Thomsen, the head of the IMF's European Department, and Delia Velkouleskou, the IMF mission chief for Greece.

The whistle-blowing organisation said the discussion showed that the IMF was planning to tell Germany it will abandon the Troika (composed of the IMF, European Commission and the European Central Bank) if the IMF and the Commission fail to reach an agreement on Greek debt relief.

The IMF officials say that a threat of an imminent financial catastrophe was needed to force other players into accepting its "measures" such as cutting Greek pensions and working conditions, but that the UK referendum on June 23 will paralyse European decision making at a critical moment, according to the records.

The IMF officials said a threat of an imminent financial catastrophe was needed to help reach a "decision point", convincing German chancellor Angela Merkel on debt relief and Greece into accepting IMF "measures" against pensions and working conditions, said the transcript.

The UK referendum was said to add a complication that needed to be negotiated around - delaying a possible "moment of truth" until after the June 23 Brexit vote.

Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos has accused the IMF of imposing "draconian measures", including on pension reform.

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Wikileaks: IMF internal meeting predicts Greek 'disaster', threatens to leave Troika

The transcript quotes Ms Velkouleskou as saying: "What is interesting though is that (Greece) did give in... they did give a little bit on both the income tax reform and on the.... both on the tax credit and the supplementary pensions".

Mr Thomsen's view was that the Greeks "are not even getting close (to coming) around to accept our views".

Ms Velkouleskou argued that "if (the Greek government) get pressured enough, they would... But they don't have any incentive and they know that the Commission is willing to compromise, so that is the problem".

WikiLeaks said, in the meeting, Ms Velkouleskou revealed that the IMF is strategising about whether it should release its updated report on the crisis.

The details were released by WikiLeaks, whose founder Julian Assange has been living inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over three years to avoid being extradited to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over a sex allegation, which he denies.

He believes if he leaves the embassy he will be taken to the United States to be quizzed over the activities of WikiLeaks.

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said: "In 2015, the troika stalled until July to bring Greece to its knees in order to force Alexis Tsipras' hand.

" In 2016, as WikiLeaks revealed today, the IMF is planning to stall until July to bring Greece to its knees (again!) in order to force Angela Merkel's hand.

"It's time to stop Greece's fiscal waterboarding by an incompetent, misanthropic troika."

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From Belfast Telegraph