By N. Malliara
The latest "monkey wrench" in efforts to again resume auctions of foreclosed property in the country, especially assets belonging to major debtors and corporate entities, emerged with a decision by notaries' groups this week to abstain from auctions for the remainder of the year.
Notaries in Greece are law school graduates who specialize in drawing up contracts, wills and in keeping a registry of land deed contracts and transfers, while their presence is a legal necessity at auctions of foreclosed real estate.
At the same, the long-delayed debut of e-auctions in the country is threatened as well.
According to reports, creditors have pressured the Greek government to protect the process for holding auctions as well as legal officials involved in the process, such as notaries.
Property auctions in Greece have systematically been blocked by small groups of protesters on practically every Wednesday, when they are usually held. At the same time, various groups of self-styled anarchists and anti-capitalists have targeted offices of lawyers and notaries involved in property auctions.
The decision to abstain from auctions until the end of the year was taken by a slim majority, 134 to 132, during an extraordinary general assembly of notary associations in the greater Athens area.
The decision also involves e-auction, whenever the platform for such is finally operable.
In reaction, the Hellenic Bank Association, which represents Greece's lenders, charged that a preventing creditors from seeking enforcement procedures "undermines the fundamental principles of the credit market, the economy and is unconstitutional".
The fact that auctions of foreclosed properties are essentially blocked for several years in Greece, in tandem with a "mountain" of NPLs held by Greek banks exceeding 100 billion euros, earned a warning this week by none other than ECB President Mario Draghi, who spoke at Monday's Eurogroup.