Face of Greece Financial Crisis: Generous Offer For Sobbing Pensioner

imageHE WAS the sobbing pensioner who became the human face of the Greek debt crisis. Now an Australian man is desperate to get in touch with him with a very generous offer.
James Koufos, chief executive officer of personal finance company Gap Finance, has appealed for help to track down the man after discovering 77-year-old Giorgos Chatzifotiadis was a childhood friend of his late father, George Koufidis.

imageMr Chatzifotiadis was photographed by Agence France-Presse slumped in despair on the footpath outside a bank in the Greek city of Thessaloniki on Friday.
He had queued up at three banks in the hope of withdrawing his 120 euro pension, only to be turned away at a fourth bank. Mr Chatzifotiadis said he “just collapsed” when told he could not get the money.
The former coalmine worker said he “cannot stand to see my country in this distress”. “That’s why I feel so beaten, more than for my own personal problems,” Mr Chatzifotiadis said.
The photo went around the world, highlighting the human cost of the crippling capital controls imposed last week.
“I see my fellow citizens begging for a few cents to buy bread. I see more and more suicides. I am a sensitive person. I cannot stand to see my country in this situation,” he said. “Europe and Greece have made mistakes. We must find a solution.”

imageMr Koufos has appealed for help
On Facebook, Mr Koufos posted a public appeal to track down Mr Chatzifotiadis, offering to pay him 250 euros for “as long as it takes”.
“I urge all my Facebook friends to please help us track this man, even the journalists who wrote this or anyone out there who may have media ties,” he wrote.
“This man is an old school friend of my late father. Gap Finance and I will pay this man’s pension for 12 months-plus. As long as it takes. 170 euros a week? We will give him 250 euros!
“I will never allow … a fellow Greek proud hardworking man [to] starve. Please, please, if anyone can help track this man down with his details I urge you to contact us.
“We must help, [we] don’t want your $$$ just help to find him and his details please!”
Mr Koufos said his mother, who is in Greece, got in touch with him after seeing the story. “She was tearful on the phone. She said, ‘That was a very good friend of your dad’s, they went to school together.’ I got a bit emotional about it,” he told news.com.au.
The photograph was taken in Thessaloniki but Mr Koufos believes Mr Chatzifotiadis lives in the city of Serres, about 80km away. He said they had tried to find the man’s phone number or address but without any luck.

He said he was willing to help Mr Chatzifotiadis out financially because it’s what his father, who left him a large inheritance after his recent death, would have wanted.
“I’ve got people in Greece that could deliver cash to him; it could be through money transfer, Western Union. I’ve also got bank accounts in Greece,” Mr Koufos said. “Even if we had to pay for an international courier — whatever we can do.
“It’s very emotional. It hit us, and a lot of Greek people, very hard.”

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