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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Bundesbank boss in row over perks
Bundesbank chief, Ernst Welteke
Bundesbank chief, Ernst Welteke accused of spending bank's cash
A bankers' New Year's Eve celebration has turned sour for the Bundesbank and its president, Ernst Welteke.

He is facing calls to resign after it became public that he accepted a perk worth over 7,600 euros (5,000; $9,200) from a commercial bank he regulates.

The bill mounted up over four days at Berlin's most luxurious hotel during festivities after the euro launch.

Prosectors are now said to investigate Mr Welteke for allowing Dresdner Bank to pay the bill for him and his family.


In a statement Mr Welteke acknowledged the "criticism and misunderstandings" in the public over the hotel bill.

He added the Bundesbank had investigated the circumstances of the visit in detail.

Two days of the four-day break had been found to be work-related, which meant that the Bundesbank would pay for them. The remaining two days at the hotel would be paid by Mr Welteke personally. The payments were being made on Monday.

So far, Mr Welteke has rejected calls to stand down.

German lawmaker Steffan Kampter, a member of the conservative Christian Democrats, the country's main opposition party, said in Sunday's Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the bank chief had to pay back the money and then resign.

Curiously Mr Welteke tried to explain the story by saying "When someone invites me to take part in an event then I assume they will also cover the costs". The costs also included a room for his 25-year-old son and his girlfriend.

The German Government is distancing itself from the Bundesbank boss. A government spokesman said Mr Welteke had to explain himself and this sort of behaviour by a federal minister would not have been tolerated.

The Bundesbank is not part of the government machinery, but is governed by its own statutes which relate to civil service law. The civil service code in Germany does not allow its personnel to accept gifts.

Mr Welteke is Germany's highest-paid civil servant and earns 350,000 euros per year.

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