Greeks move billions from local bank accounts to the UK

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The Independent Online

The bulk of the €16bn (£13.33bn) withdrawn from Greek banks that flowed overseas since the financial crisis began in 2009 ended up in the UK, the country's finance minister said yesterday.

Evangelos Venizelos said a total of €70bn had been withdrawn in the past two years, mainly by families and businesses hoarding cash against the worst-case scenario or struggling to meet their bills as they spend their savings. Much of the Greek cash has found its way into the London property market, sparking complaints among estate agents of shortages of prime housing stock.

"This money, if it existed in the banks, would allow for loans to be made to businesses, for the economy to move, for unemployment to be tackled," Mr Venizelos said.

He also ratcheted up pressure on bondholders to accept the terms of the country's €130bn bailout, which involves them taking a 53.5 per cent loss on their loans. Creditors were inching towards a deal yesterday but Mr Venizelos added: "Whoever thinks they will hold out and be paid in full is mistaken," he said. The deal has to be ratified by Thursday night.