Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis hit headlines in British newspapers on Wednesday, for the first time in a while.
That’s because of a report originally carried by Greek newspaper Proto Thema, claiming that Varoufakis is being advertised as a speaker by an agency advertising fees running up to $US60,000 (£39,228) for appearances in the United States.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a little against the grain for a prominent critic of laissez-faire greed.
The original article detailed correspondence between the London Speaker Bureau in which a journalist tried to negotiate with a person who said they represented Varoufakis.
In response, Varoufakis launched a drive called “transparency everywhere,” with a blog post detailing his speakers’ fees so far. It looks like on at least one front, Proto Thema was incorrect. It added up all Varoufakis’ recent speeches to reach a potential income figure of €2.4 million (£1.7 million, $US2.7 million), based on the idea that they’d all charged similar fees.
Varoufakis notes that most of his speeches have been expenses-only. He’s not even receiving travel money, for example, to speak to striking staff at London’s National Gallery. Similarly, it doesn’t seem like the small fees suggested by the London Speaker Bureau for appearances at institutions like universities are correct.
But the blog post does concede that he’s been paid €24,000 (£17,387, $US26,584) after tax with first class travel expenses for participating in an Italian TV programme. He’s getting another €28,800 (£20,285, $US31,016) after tax with business class travel expenses for a presentation at conference in Singapore.
Those numbers sound a lot closer to the $US60,000 (£39,228) mentioned by Proto Thema.
What the blog post clearly doesn’t say is more telling:
- Varoufakis doesn’t say that London Speaker Bureau doesn’t represent him.
- He doesn’t say what fees he or his representatives would ask for if he was giving a speech in the US.
Fascinating, though the London Speaker Bureau did list Yanis Varoufakis as a speaker, and advertised him as recently October 16 this year, his face has since disappeared from the page.
It’s all a bit reminiscent of an occurrence earlier in the year, in which Varoufakis said that people shouldn’t believe German newspaper BILD’s “tall stories” about Greece.
It was on the same day that BILD has reported that the Greek government had managed to send the wrong letter illustrating its intentions to Brussels.
But in a Financial Times interview with Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem, he revealed that the BILD story had been true. Varoufakis didn’t seem to have anything more to say about it.
Though he’s a major complainer when it comes to the “toxic media,” it seems like Varoufakis could be a little bit more open — he could start by just addressing whether the $US60,000 (£39,228) figure is correct and that London Speaker Bureau is representing his wishes.