Bundesbank chiefpays disputed bill

5th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

5 April 2004 , FRANKFURT - The head of the German central bank sought to head off resignation calls Monday by agreeing to pay back a controversial luxury-hotel bill which was covered by a private bank. Bundesbank President Ernst Welteke has confirmed he and his family were treated to several suites costing almost EUR 7,700 at Berlin's Hotel Adlon to welcome introduction of the euro as a hard currency at the beginning of 2002. The story was broken at the weekend by the news magazine Der Spiegel. Germany's F

5 April 2004

FRANKFURT - The head of the German central bank sought to head off resignation calls Monday by agreeing to pay back a controversial luxury-hotel bill which was covered by a private bank.

Bundesbank President Ernst Welteke has confirmed he and his family were treated to several suites costing almost EUR 7,700 at Berlin's Hotel Adlon to welcome introduction of the euro as a hard currency at the beginning of 2002.

The story was broken at the weekend by the news magazine Der Spiegel. Germany's Finance Ministry said Monday it had received three anonymous letters detailing the affair last week.

Welteke said in a statement that allowing Dresdner Bank to pay the bill had led to "criticism and misunderstandings", and that he had repaid the bill covering two nights at the hotel for his family members.

The Bundesbank has paid back a further two nights for Welteke as official travel expenses.

This contrasted with Welteke's initial reaction at the weekend.

"When somebody invites me to an event I assume they are going to cover the costs. Why should I pay it myself?" Welteke told reporters Saturday at a conference in Ireland.

In Berlin, Finance Ministry spokesman Jörg Mueller stressed the Bundesbank is totally independent and would have to make its own decision on whether to impose sanctions on Welteke.

"Comparable behaviour in a ministry would not be tolerated," said Mueller.

Der Spiegel said Welteke stayed at the hotel with his wife, his 25-year-old son and his girlfriend and their three-year-old son in separate suites.

Welteke is a member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the European Central Bank (ECB) governing council.

Welteke could easily have paid the bill himself from the start given that his annual salary is EUR 350,000 per year - more than Schroeder receives, noted German news television n-tv.

Opposition conservatives have called the affair "a scandal" and are demanding Welteke resign.

 DPA

Subject: German news

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