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President 'used threats to try to stop scandal story'

The Local · 2 Jan 2012, 17:34

Published: 02 Jan 2012 07:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Jan 2012 17:34 GMT+01:00

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When he realised that the country’s biggest-selling newspaper Bild was about to publish details of a €500,000 loan he got from the wife of a businessman friend but had not declared, Wulff called the paper’s editor and left a furious message on the answering machine. The story and a host of follow-up revelations have put him under enormous pressure.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung paper reported on Monday that Wulff called Bild editor Kai Diekmann from a state visit to Kuwait on December 12, and urged him not to publish the story, saying he was prepared to talk about a “war” with the paper and threatening criminal charges against the journalists involved. What charges those might have been are totally unclear.

Wulff said that he would break off all relations with the paper’s publishing house Springer if what he called the “unbelievable” story was published, the Süddeutsche reported.

Spiegel magazine reported on its website on Monday that Wulff had even called the CEO of Springer Mathias Döpfner, asking him to push Diekmann into pulling the story. Döpfner told him in no uncertain terms to stop trying to interfere, the magazine said. Bild confirmed the reports of both phone calls on Monday, and said that Wulff called again a few days later to apologise.

When Bild published the story as scheduled, it put Wulff’s financial affairs while state premier of Lower Saxony and his public statements about them under the media spotlight. He has since made comments about the value of a free media.

Wulff did not comment on the revelations about his calls to Bild on Monday, despite a number of newspaper websites publishing scathing commentaries on his conduct.

He has apologised for not being completely straight forward when asked about the 2008 loan in the state parliament, denying he had taken money from the businessman but not mentioning the load from his wife.

It has also emerged that another prominent Lower Saxony businessman paid for the promotion of Wulff’s book in the run-up to a state election, while Wulff has also been accused of inappropriately helping an event planner friend get work organising a series of government conferences.

Wulff replaced the initial private loan with a loan from BW-Bank, which gave him preferential interest rates. Der Spiegel magazine suggested indicated a conflict of interest because Wulff had played a major role in sorting out financial issues between car-makers BMW and Porsche, in which the bank had a financial interest.

There has also been great interest in the timing of the BW-Bank loan – which it emerged was signed only shortly before Christmas, when the pressure was already on Wulff.

Story continues below…

So far Wulff has not entertained the possibility of resigning, despite increasingly withering heavy pressure. He has continued to receive report from political heavy hitters, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:37 January 2, 2012 by lucksi
So what is the worst that could happen to Wulff? That he resignes and get his lifelong 200k a year pension?
10:19 January 2, 2012 by Snapply
What an awesome picture, lol
11:27 January 2, 2012 by William Thirteen
he's reaching for a pen to sign his newest loan agreement...
13:35 January 2, 2012 by jmclewis
Time or a new job in the USA!!!!!!
14:14 January 2, 2012 by freechoice
Wulffy has been naughty lately. I hope he is not stepping into any political minefields again!
21:28 January 2, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
oh what a shock. Holier-than-thou, moral-high-ground Wulff turns out to be just a power-hungry sinner like so many other people in positions of influence.

The great irony in the whole Wulff scandal is that he, of all people, has always tried to sell an image of morals and decency. I still vaguely remember his harsh yet thoughtful words against greedy bank managers in the financial crisis. And lo and behold, it appears he's just another pot calling the kettle black. Or to quote another saying, when you point your finger at somebody, three of your fingers always point back at you.

But these ramblings about morals and decency aside, he is becoming a liability and every day that he still remains in power further besmirches the office of the German President. He has to go. And hopefully he will be replaced by somebody who will live up to the moral standards that Wulff so much enjoyed holding other people to, but failed to apply to himself.
07:35 January 3, 2012 by puisoh
The fact that he threatens BILD tells us of his intelligence level. BILD is a tabloid and has defiant characteristics for its survival and circulation purposes..

I hope this will seal his fate as President.

So, Goodby Mr President and salute to the CEO @ Springer for more o less giving Wulff the middle finger and BILD's Chief, you've got it made!
17:59 January 3, 2012 by beatriceco
This latest travesty involving the President of Germany comes at a time when Germany can ill afford this type of distraction. It has only been one year and seven months since the resignation of Horst Köhler on May 31 2010, and the fiasco that created.

When the resignation of Horst Köhler was announced, I had suggested that since the office of the president is simply ceremonial, then why not re-introduce the position of monarch, like in Denmark or Netherlands as head of state. There is nothing un-democratic about this proposal, as the Scandinavian and Dutch monarchs are widely popular, and serve simple, yet important ceremonial roles, and are a perfect bridge between the various political parties, and are more true to the people than politicians are, which has been proven true in the case of recent memory.

As a non-politician, Georg Friedrich Ferdinand Prinz von Preußen, a modest, yet intelligent person would make a perfect head of state, and would be an example to help bridge the gap in the otherwise chaotic political landscape.
16:22 January 4, 2012 by storymann
Pres. Wulff had a lot of support concerning his low interest loan , even from the Chancellor. The phone threat changes all of that, he will most likely be forced to resign.
17:34 January 7, 2012 by funshy38
i think the issue here is overfloged,fine he got a loan at a reduce intrest rate but honestly a lot in the society has and proberbly is doing worst.the only fault here in my opinion is the call threat to the media house.
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