The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras on Fri­day ac­knowl­edged his gov­ern­ment had made covert con­tin­gency plans in case Greece was forced out of the euro, but re­jected ac­cu­sa­tions he had plot­ted to take the coun­try back to the drachma.

Tsipras was forced to re­spond to the is­sue in par­lia­ment af­ter for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Yanis Varoufakis this week re­vealed ef­forts to hack into cit­i­zens' tax codes to cre­ate a par­al­lel pay­ment sys­tem, prompt­ing shock and out­rage in Greece.

The dis­clo­sure heaped new pres­sure on Tsipras, who is also bat­tling a re­bel­lion within his Syriza party and start­ing tough talks with the Euro­pean and In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund to seal a third bailout pro­gram in less than three weeks. "We didn't de­sign or have a plan to pull the coun­try out of the euro, but we did have emer­gency plans," Tsipras told par­lia­ment. "If our part­ners and lenders had pre­pared a Grexit plan, shouldn't we as a gov­ern­ment have pre­pared our de­fense?"

He com­pared the plan to a coun­try pre­par­ing its de­fenses ahead of war, say­ing it was the obli­ga­tion of a re­spon­si­ble gov­ern­ment to have con­tin­gency plans in place.

He did not di­rectly re­fer to Varoufakis' dis- clo­sure of plans to hack into his min­istry's soft­ware to ob­tain tax codes, but said but said the idea of a data­base giv­ing Greeks pass­words to make pay­ments to set­tle ar­rears was hardly "a covert and sa­tanic plan to take the coun­try out of the euro".

Tsipras also de­fended his em­bat­tled for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter, who has con­tin­ued to cre­ate headaches for the gov­ern­ment since be­ing ousted ear­lier this month.

"Mr. Varoufakis might have made mis­takes, as all of us have ... You can blame him as much as you want for his po­lit­i­cal plan, his state­ments, for his taste in shirts, for va­ca­tions in Aegina," Tsipras said.

"But you can­not ac­cuse him of steal­ing the money of Greek peo­ple or hav­ing a covert plan to take Greece to the precipice."

Tsipras's com­ments came as Greece be­gan talks with the mis­sion chiefs of the quar­tet of cred­i­tors - the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank, IMF and the Euro­pean bailout fund - to nail down a third bailout of up to 86 bil­lion eu­ros. The meet­ing with Greece's fi­nance and econ­omy min­is­ters got un­der way at a ho­tel in cen­tral Athens rather than at gov­ern­ment min­istries, part of ef­forts to keep the visit by EU/IMF of­fi­cials dis­creet and less in­tru­sive than in the past.

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