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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 22:04 GMT 23:04 UK
Bundesbank puts boss 'on leave'
Ernst Welteke
Mr Welteke faces pressure to quit
Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, has said its president Ernst Welteke is to stand down temporarily.

The news came at the end of a meeting on Mr Welteke's conduct after it emerged he had accepted a luxury hotel stay, paid for by a bank he regulates.

The 7,600-euro (5,000; $9,200) bill was picked up by Dresdner Bank.

The Bundesbank board said it had asked Mr Welteke to take leave of absence, as a Frankfurt prosecutor has launched an investigation into the affair.

Emergency meeting

Mr Welteke became the subject of a Bundesbank review after a German magazine reported earlier this week on his hotel stay.

He spent four nights with his family at Berlin's top Adlon Hotel during celebrations of the euro's launch on 1 January, 2002.

In a statement, the Bundesbank board said it had asked Mr Welteke to take leave as Frankfurt's state prosecutor was investigating a "preliminary suspicion" that he may have accepted an illegal gratuity.

The bank added it saw "no sufficient reason" to ask him to resign.

Bundesbank vice president Juergen Stark will fill Mr Welteke's seat on the European Central Bank's policy-making council, the statement said.

It did not say how long Mr Welteke's leave may last.

Mr Welteke - who has apologised for accepting the hotel stay - did not comment on the board's decision.

Earlier this week, he repaid part of the bill after the German government publicly demanded an explanation.


The scandal has been embarrassing for the Bundesbank, which has a reputation for independence from the government and other banks it regulates.

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, earning 350,000 euros per year.

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