13 April 2004
BERLIN – The German Finance Ministry denied Tuesday any intrigue to remove Ernst Welteke, head of Germany’s central bank.
Welteke took leave last week after the disclosure that he accepted lavish corporate hospitality at the end of 2001. A private bank, Dresdner, picked up the tab when Welteke and family stayed four nights at Berlin’s prestigious hotel, the Adlon.
The disclosure surfaced a week ago in the news magazine Der Spiegel. Opposition politicians have demanded an inquiry into where the tip-off came from and why.
Though it is a state institution, Welteke’s Bundesbank is independent of the government. The Bundesbank board announced Welteke would be going on leave for an undetermined period.
A spokesman at the Finance Ministry said rumours that Berlin had previously been seeking to get rid of Welteke were “malicious and absurd”. He said the only issue was Welteke’s personal behaviour.
Welteke also denied reports that Finance Minister Hans Eichel had called on him to step down before the disclosure.
A Bundesbank spokesman in Frankfurt said no internal inquiry against Welteke was planned, because the central bank was waiting for prosecutors to study the case. He said the bank was seeking an ethics counsellor to advise in future on what gifts were legitimate.
Subject: German News