IOU ‘worth trillions’ gives mayor headache

IOU 'worth trillions' gives mayor headache
Photo: DPA
The mayor of a German town who threatened to cash in a medieval IOU now worth trillions of euros from the city of Berlin is regretting his wild claims after the publicity stunt ran out of control.

“It’s all nonsense and old hat, I can’t hear this story with the guilders anymore,” Uwe Pfeiffer, mayor of Mittenwalde in Brandenburg told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Friday.

Yet it was he who created an international storm of interest in the story of the unpaid debt which could bankrupt the German capital – not that there was any chance of the already broke city being able to pay anything.

“Show time was over a long time ago,” said Pfeiffer.

“But they are still calling from all around the world,” he claimed.

He launched the publicity stunt when he dug out a 450-year-old debt note from 1562 which showed that the double village Berlin-Cölln had borrowed 400 guilders from Mittenwalde – in order to pay a tax bill.

“There was never any repayment, otherwise we wouldn’t still have the debt note,” he said.

The interest on the debt, once an estimate had been made of what 400 guilders would be worth in euros, reached an eye-watering sum.

But there was never any intention of claiming the money from the capital. “Berlin will of course not pay a single euro, we never expected anything else,” he said. “We don’t need it. Mittenwalde is, in contrast to Berlin, largely debt free.”

The Local/hc

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