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Saturday, 22 September, 2001, 19:42 GMT 20:42 UK
Terror attacks shares probe
Share prices of airlines plunged after the attacks
EU finance ministers have launched a Europe-wide investigation into an unusual flurry of trading in airline and insurance shares shortly before the terror attacks in the US.

Suspicions have been raised that the people behind the 11 September suicide attacks may have made huge profits by manipulating the stock market.

The suspicious transactions all took place immediately before the hijackings, suggesting that those trading the shares knew what was about to happen.

Afterwards, shares in airline and insurance companies plunged.

If you look at movements in markets before and after the attack, it makes your brow furrow

Ernst Welteke
Germany's central bank president Ernst Welteke said market regulators had detected unusual movements in airline and insurance shares, as well as in gold and oil markets.

"If you look at movements in markets before and after the attack, it makes your brow furrow.

"But it is extremely difficult to really verify it," Mr Welteke said.

"There are a lot of rumours and a lot of speculation, and perhaps in the end we will have evidence."

The fear is that huge profits may have been made by those with fore-knowledge of the attacks.

Government guarantees

EU ministers have now ordered stock market supervisors in all 15 member states to prepare a joint report before 16 October.

Ministers meeting in the Belgium city of Liege had intended to concentrate on preparations for the introduction of euro notes and coins next year.

Ernst Welteke
Ernst Welteke: Extremely difficult to verify
But instead the meeting was dominated by the fallout from the US terror attacks.

The ministers also agreed a formula for government guarantees to keep airlines flying after insurance companies cancelled war and terrorism policies following the suicide hijackings.

Europe's airlines have been rocked by the terror attacks in the US.

British Airways, on Thursday announced 5,200 more job losses, on top of 1,800 announced in the last two weeks, bringing the total to 12.5% of its workforce.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"There are sign of suspicious trading"
See also:

22 Sep 01 | Business
UK airlines 'will continue flying'
19 Sep 01 | Business
US airlines lose 40,000 more jobs
21 Sep 01 | UK
Q & A: Airport security
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