Germany 'finds' billions after error

2011-10-29 16:29

Berlin - Germany is €55.5bn ($78.7bn) richer than it thought due to an accountancy error at the bad bank of nationalised mortgage lender Hypo Real Estate (HRE), the finance ministry said.

Europe's largest economy now expects its ratio of debt to gross domestic product to be 81.1% for 2011, 2.6 percentage points less than previously forecast, it said.

The HRE-linked bad bank FMS Wertmanagement was set up after HRE was nationalised in 2009, so that HRE could transfer the worst non-performing assets to an off-balance sheet bank guaranteed by the German state.

"Apparently it was due to sums incorrectly entered twice," said a ministry spokesperson on Friday, adding the reason for the error still needed to be clarified.

The government nonetheless welcomed the news which pointed to a further reduction of Germany's debt mountain, which remains above the European Union's Maastricht requirement for 60% of GDP.

However, the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) expressed astonishment at the extent of the accountancy error, for which they see the government as responsible.

"This is not a sum that the Swabian housewife hides in a biscuit tin and forgets," said SPD parliamentary leader Thomas Oppermann. "To overlook such a sum is completely irresponsible."

Swabians, from the south-west of Germany, are renowned for their savings skills.

Of the total sum uncovered at FMS, €24.5bn is for 2010 and €31bn is for 2011.

"HRE's bad bank is a state-owned bank for which [Finance Minister] Wolfgang Schaeuble is responsible," Oppermann added.

"He is responsible for the bank being managed and supervised in an orderly way, and this clearly was not the case."

FMS Wertmanagement was created when toxic loans and securities with a face value of €173bn were transferred from HRE in October last year, creating Germany's largest bad bank.

  • Martin - 2011-10-29 16:36

    Mehr geld fur bier! Jawohl!

  • John - 2011-10-29 16:36

    Slightly better than finding a R50 in an old pair of jeans

  • Ian - 2011-10-29 16:43

    oops....sorry......small bad.......won't do it again.....

  • Mike - 2011-10-29 16:50

    Want to borrow the Greeks some money AGAIN? :)

      John - 2011-10-29 20:27

      No money for the greeks until: they work extra hours daily for free. they work extra hours saturday for free. they work extra hours sunday for free. No? No extra money for you... The greeks don't understand the devaluation of their economy: usually, the money loses value, buying lesser items. The only way to support the economy is to work more for the same pay. It was done here under Botha. But can dependancy-syndrome greeks grasp that? No... There they march, again! Scaring off the tourists, again! Aggravating the german's which lend them money...again!

  • Hartmut - 2011-10-29 17:02

    Ja, wow! Our SA crooks still can learn something how to steal money elegantly, and give even some back that it can be rediscovered!!! hahaha (I got my basic education in a German Bank!)

      Elizabeth - 2011-10-30 14:35

      Ich glaube dir, es ist war, schoen gruss

  • Marlene - 2011-10-29 17:26

    Gee whizz I wish my bank could find me a few million !

  • William - 2011-10-29 17:48


  • braamc - 2011-10-29 17:53

    Pass on this side please

  • Jarryd - 2011-10-29 18:04

    Everyone makes mistakes

  • Vuyo - 2011-10-29 18:09

    It looks like the kind of "mistake" that is more likely to occur in an African government not a German one. Only differnce is no one will know and the money will certainly dissappear into some pockets in an African country

      Dirk - 2011-10-29 19:41

      A saving mistake as opposed to a spending mistake

  • John - 2011-10-29 20:11

    Gary Player said the more he practiced the luckier he got. The more financial responsibility you practice, the more loose ends you find. Germany used to have 3 times the financial reserves as other countries, which was discovered in the days of the currency raiders. So when the financial storms came, their economy stood up to be counted.

  • Eduard Marais - 2011-10-29 20:15

    Well, at least it is a positive amount, in SA these billions are LOST every year without any punishment!

  • Kevin - 2011-10-29 20:39

    The accountants got it wrong again. The Greek debt crisis is self created, their bureaucracy is simply to large and too inefficient for their tax collections, hence the borrowing. Their most inefficient bureaucracy is their tax department, if they can be believed, there are more people paying tax on R10m (1m euro) in Capetown than in the whole of Greece!

  • Faith - 2011-10-29 21:45


  • Nicholas - 2011-10-30 11:23

    Germany is a fine example of a country that has build itself up in 60 years from ashes, to being the most powerful economy in Europe. In Africa after 50 years of independence, countries still blame colonialists for their continued regression.

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