German Fin. Min. Warns Of Hedge Fund Spy Plan

Mar 18 2010 | 8:46am ET

Germany may deploy its spies to gather information about hedge funds and other currency speculators, its finance minister said.

Wolfgang Schaeuble told the German Parliament on Tuesday that the country may direct “intelligence agencies to set up surveillance of who is getting together with whom for which kinds of speculative processes,” Bloomberg News reports.

The information gathered, he told the Bundestag, would be used to protect the euro, which has been battered amidst widespread short-selling by hedge funds and by Greece’s debt troubles, which have also been blamed on short-selling hedge funds.

Schaeuble’s comments come the same week that German Chancellor Angela Merkel used the podium of the Bundestag to blast British intransigence over the European Union’s proposed alternative investment regulation. They also follow a report last month in El País, the largest newspaper in Spain, that the country’s secret service was probing “attacks” on Spain by investors.

Reaction to Schaeuble’s comments was swift.

“I find it sinister and silly,” the Centre for European Reform’s Philip Whyte told Bloomberg. “It is a complete overreaction. There is a certain school of thought in continental Europe that everything is always the fault of hedge funds.”

“Hedge funds are very nice targets because they are particularly based in London and New York,” Jacob Schmidt of hedge fund advisory Schmidt Research Partners said. “He is not going to say this about German banks.”

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