German president denies wrongdoing over private loan

13th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

German President Christian Wulff dismissed a report Tuesday that he had misled state lawmakers last year about a loan he received from the wife of a business tycoon.

A spokesman for Wulff, whose role is largely ceremonial but who serves as a kind of moral arbiter in national debates, said he told the Lower Saxony parliament the truth about his business dealings while still premier of the northern state.

The daily Bild reported that Wulff was suspected of concealing from deputies the 500,000-euro ($659,000) loan in October 2008 from the wife of wealthy businessman Egon Geerkens, both longtime friends of Wulff.

"The response was correct," the spokesman said when asked about an official question put forward by the opposition Greens as to whether Wulff had "business ties" with Geerkens or a firm with which Geerkens had dealings.

Wulff had denied such a relationship despite having accepted the loan from Geerkens' wife Edith to buy a home, which the spokesman on Tuesday described as a "deal for a loan from her private assets".

"There were, and are, no business ties to Geerkens's firm," he said.

The loan was extended at four-percent interest -- one point lower than the usual bank mortgage rate. The spokesman said the future president had paid all the instalments on time.

Days after the hearing in the state parliament in February 2010 -- four months before he became president -- Wulff rolled the loan over to a bank mortgage although his arrangement with Edith Geerkens ran until November 2013, according to Bild.

Wulff belongs to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats.

© 2011 AFP

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