IMF responds to claims that it hopes to engineer a Greek default

The publication of a transcript of an IMF teleconference by Wikileaks has angered politicians in Athens

IMF responds to claims that it hopes to engineer a Greek default

Domenico Stinellis / AP

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund has responded to Greek politicians who have claimed that the Washington-based institution is trying to push the country towards a default.

Officials in Athens responded angrily after Wikileaks published a transcript from what it says is a mid-March teleconference between three senior IMF officials in which ways to pressure Greece into a default are discussed.

The conversation is said to feature the IMF's Europe department head Poul Thomsen and Delia Velculescu, leader of the IMF team in Greece - it reflects on the inaction over Greece's financial problems until the country faces an 'emergency' situation.

"What is going to bring it all to a decision point?" Mr Thomsen is reported to have asked, before continuing, "In the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when they were about to run out of money seriously and to default."

Ms Velculescu later agrees, "we need an event, but I don't know what that will be."

"Any speculation that IMF staff would consider using a credit event as a negotiating tactic is simply nonsense," Ms Lagarde wrote in a letter to Greek PM Alexis Tsipras.

"My view of the ongoing negotiations is that we are still a good distance away from having a coherent program that I can present to our Executive Board," she continues.

Her response raises questions as to the source of the Wikileaks documents, saying that the IMF, "conducts its negotiations in good faith, not by way of threats, and we do not communicate through leaks."

The Wikileaks report prompted the calling of an emergency meeting of Greek ministers on Saturday and Mr Tsipras calling for a formal explanation of the comments from the IMF. In a letter to the IMF chief, he said that he had "deep concerns" regarding the leaked transcript and that it "brought into question whether Greece can trust, and continue negotiating [with the IMF] in good faith."

The EU/IMF are scheduled to resume talks with Greek officials on Monday as a review of the country's bailout is concluded, and the restructuring of Greek debt is discussed.