ATHENS – A former Greek minister on Tuesday identified her businessman husband as the mystery man behind a 1 million euro transfer abroad, putting an end to days of speculation on a transaction held up as an example of political hypocrisy.
The controversy erupted last week when a Greek prosecutor said an unnamed lawmaker had sent 1 million euros to a Swiss bank, prompting outrage against politicians who have urged ordinary Greeks to keep their savings in Greek banks.
Days of frenzied chatter in Greek media over the identity of the lawmaker followed, with politicians taking turns to decry the transfer and urging the culprit to come forward.
The guessing game finally came to end on Tuesday when Dora Bakoyanni, head of the small centre-right Democratic Alliance party, said a parliamentary committee had called to tell her the person in question was her husband.
Bakoyannis, who was expelled from the New Democracy party only to establish her own political formation (Democratic Alliance) in Parliament, sharply condemned the speculation, saying Kouvelos legally transferred the funds abroad for the purchase of a merchant vessel. She added that the money transferred from a Greek bank was initially generated from the liquidation of stock market shares that Kouvelis owned in the United States.
Bakoyannis said the vessel was purchased via a transaction in London.
“An entire sector is today being slandered. Some people are trying to hide those who really did transfer their money to Switzerland,” Bakoyannis said, adding that the entire affair was aimed at her new political initiative.
News of the million euro transfer touched a nerve among ordinary Greeks suffering from repeated wage and pension cuts imposed under a new bailout package to save the country from bankruptcy. They blame a political class they see as corrupt and self-serving for their plight.
Greeks have withdrawn some 65 billion euros ($86 billion) in bank savings since the debt crisis picked up steam in 2009, stashing most of it at home or in safety deposit boxes in fear the country might have to return to the drachma.