UK accused of pandering to City
BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck accused Britain on Wednesday of hindering efforts to reform global financial markets because it is too eager to pander to the City of London.
While the U.S. administration was now interested in reforming financial markets, London was resisting change, said Steinbrueck, who last year sparked a diplomatic spat with Britain by criticising its economic stimulus plan.
"The interests of the City of London are practically implemented, practically aligned with the policy interests of the British government," he said in Berlin.
Attempts to secure an advantage for London extended to the limits the government imposed on taxing executives, he said, noting the City seemed bent on a "restoration" of the conditions in place before the financial crisis broke.
"At times I see a great deal of resistance to regulatory measures in regard to what matters to the City of London and the British government," Steinbrueck said at an event hosted by Germany's DGB union umbrella federation.
World leaders agreed at a summit in London in April, hosted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to tighten rules on financial supervision.
In subsequent international cooperation on these reforms, Steinbrueck said he had heard some comments recently suggesting going back to the status quo prior to the financial crisis that intensified with the collapse of Lehman Brothers last September.
"I think London in particular is very suspect in that regard," Steinbrueck added. "They have a restoration in mind, to recreate as far as possible the old state of things."
Steinbrueck made the comments just a week ahead of a summit in Italy of the Group of Eight economic powers, which include both Britain and Germany. G8 leaders are expected to discuss financial market supervision during their talks.
Last year Steinbrueck took aim at Britain's economic policy, antagonising London.
In an interview with Newsweek magazine last December, he criticised British measures to stimulate its economy: "The same people who would never touch deficit spending are now tossing around billions. The switch of supply-side politics all the way to a crass Keynesianism is breathtaking."
(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Toby Chopra)
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