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Welteke expresses ‘deepestregret’ about hotel affair

6 April 2004

FRANKFURT – With controversy swirling around him over his stay at a deluxe hotel at the expense of a private bank, Bundesbank president Ernst Welteke issued a new statement Tuesday expressing his “deepest regret” about the incident and his initial reaction to it.

The statement issued by Bundesbank headquarters in Frankfurt made no comment about calls for his resignation, but Welteke did say that the bank’s executive board would study his actions.

Earlier, a Bundesbank spokesman had said Welteke had no intention of resigning in the aftermath of the revelations that he and family members stayed at the deluxe Adlon Hotel in Berlin at the expense of Dresdner Bank.

“I most deeply regret that in connection with … the Dresdner Bank invitation and my initial reaction to the public commentaries, the impression arose that I myself would not adhere to the high standards which the Deutsche Bundesbank, as an independent institution, is obligated to,” Welteke said.

The statement was apparently referring to Welteke’s remarks after the story broke in the magazine Der Spiegel over the weekend when he appeared to try to brush the allegations aside.

“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.

Then on Monday, Welteke issued a new statement seeking to defuse the scandal, saying 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.

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

Welteke, 61, confirmed he and his family were treated by Dresdner Bank to a four-night stay costing almost EUR 7,700 at the Adlon over the 2001/2002 New Year to welcome the introduction of the euro as a hard currency on 1 January 2002.

Der Spiegel said Welteke stayed at the hotel with his wife in a suite, while his 25-year-old son and his girlfriend were booked into a deluxe room.

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.

The head of the German Taxpayers’ Association, Karl Heinz Daeke, has also called for Welteke to stand down.

He told Cologne’s Express newspaper on Tuesday: “The ban on accepting rewards and gifts applies to Herr Welteke as it does to every civil servant.”

Earlier Tuesday, a bank spokesman said that any decision on removing Welteke could only be taken by the Bundesbank’s governing board.

“But this is not expected,” the spokesman said about such a decision by the board. The board’s next meeting is on Wednesday.



Subject: German news