EU Finance Chiefs Add to Attack Conspiracy Theory
Saturday September 22, 2001
LIEGE, Belgium (Reuters) - European Union policymakers added on Saturday to suspicions that those who planned last week's attacks on U.S. landmarks may have profited from the havoc they brought to financial markets.
Separately, ministers agreed to speed up ratification of an existing U.N. resolution calling for the freezing of assets of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.
Bundesbank President Ernst Welteke said that in addition to strange movements in airline and insurance shares there were signs of suspicious dealings in gold and oil around the time of the September 11 attacks.
"There is lots of speculation and rumors at the moment so we have to be careful. But...that there are ever clearer signs that there were activities on international financial markets which must have been carried out with the necessary expert knowledge," Welteke said during a break in an EU finance ministers' meeting.
"With the oil price we have seen before the attacks a fundamentally inexplicable rise in the price, which could mean that people have bought oil contracts which were then sold at a higher price," he said.
Gold markets also saw movements "which need explaining."
Welteke said the first evidence of unusual price movements emerged last Thursday, two days after the attacks.
He said they were now being looked at throughout the world although he stressed that, in Germany, the Bundesbank was not in the forefront of the probe as it was not responsible for oversight of equities markets.
Didier Reynders, the current chairman of EU finance ministers' meetings, said ministers would receive a report on the matter after national supervisors and regulators had completed their investigations.
Reynders said a joint meeting of EU finance and home and justice affairs ministers in October would check member states' progress in ratifying U.N. resolution 1333 on freezing Taliban assets abroad.
"Even in the financial sector there could be a global network (of terrorists) and we are looking into this, in Austria as well," Austrian Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser said.