Greek diaspora tapped for donations to cancel debt

Vangelis Marinakis, the owner of Olympiakos Football Club – is said to have contributed 3,000 euros for each of the club’s 55 staff

Greeks living abroad are being asked to contribute to a charity domiciled in Delaware that plans to buy up and forgive Greek government debt. Greek shipping heir Peter Nomikos aims to tap the Greek diaspora to help reduce the Greek national debt with a US-based non-profit called “Greece Debt Free” — GDF will buy debt and cancel it or otherwise use it to lower the Greek government’s burden while allowing donors a deduction on their U.S. tax payments.

The math is simple: splitting Greece’s debt pile by the number of people in the country shows they owe about 25,000 euros per head, Nomikos says. As Greek debt is changing hands well below its face value, that amount of bonds can be bought for about 3,000 euros, Nomikos told Der Spiegel. So the plan is to collect donations to buy up as much debt as possible while the price remains low.

Among the first to join the plan is Vangelis Marinakis, the owner of Olympiacos Football Club – he has contributed just over 3,000 euros for each of the club’s 55 employees, Nomikos told Spiegel. Marinakis is chairman of Nasdaq-listed Product Partners LP, according to the Olympiacos website.

Still, the source of some donations may be unexpected: the Facebook page for Greece Debt Free says more than 30 percent of donations so far are from Germany. As Marinakis said in this Wall Street Journal report, anything “is worth trying.”

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