Europe

German President Christian Wulff denies lying over loan

German President Christian Wulff and his wife Bettina on a visit to Oman on 9 December 2011
Image caption President Wulff, who is currently on a tour of Gulf states with his wife Bettina, denies wrongdoing

Germany's President Christian Wulff has denied misleading state deputies over a loan he received from the wife of a wealthy businessman in October 2008.

Mr Wulff received the loan of 500,000 euros (£420,000; $660,000) while prime minister of Lower Saxony state.

But in February 2010, while repaying the money, he was asked by opposition Greens if he had business ties to the entrepreneur, Egon Geerkens.

He denied any such links - something his spokesman says remains the truth.

'Repaid early'

The claims that Mr Wulff had not given the whole truth emerged in Germany's mass-circulation newspaper Bild on Tuesday.

Mr Wulff and his wife Bettina purchased a house with the money they borrowed from Mr Geerkens' wife Edith and agreed to repay by November 2013, Bild reported.

An interest rate of 4% was agreed - one percentage point lower than the usual bank rate, Bild said.

But in February 2010, at around the time he faced the questions over his ties to the Geerkens, Mr Wulff replaced the private loan with a bank mortgage, Bild claimed - more than two-and-a-half years before the loan agreement had been due to expire.

Mr Wulff, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, was appointed to the post of president in June 2010.

It is mainly ceremonial, but the postholder is supposed to be of impeccable moral standing and to embody a national conscience.

Mr Wulff is currently in Kuwait on a six-day visit to Gulf states, and from there his spokesman insisted he had "correctly answered" the deputies' questions over any business links to the Geerkens.

"Such business links didn't and don't exist," said Olaf Glaeseker.

"There was an agreement with Mrs Edith Geerkens for a loan from her private assets. So the unambiguous question was truthfully answered in the negative."

He confirmed that in "spring 2010" the loan had been replaced - with bank finance on a lower interest rate.

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