Berlusconi says Germany ordered banks to sell Italian bonds

ROME Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:41pm EST

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ROME Dec 12 (Reuters) - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Wednesday that Germany ordered its banks to sell Italian and Greek government bonds a year ago, a move that drove up yields and eventually led to his resignation.

The 76-year-old Berlusconi said on Saturday he would seek to be prime minister for a fifth time in next year's election, and he has since campaigned against German "hegemony" in Europe.

For a second time in two days, the 76-year-old Berlusconi said Germany had ordered the nation's banks in June to sell off Italian bonds, adding on Wednesday that he knows it to be true because an Italian bank operating in Germany had told him so.

The bank "was ordered to sell and when it balked it was threatened with losing its German bank licence if it did not," he said during a book presentation in Rome.

Berlusconi resigned a year ago amid a sex scandal and as the euro zone debt crisis drove up Italian bond yields to dangerously high levels and the difference between Italian and German bond yields topped 5 percentage points.

Technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti announced his resignation on Saturday after Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party withdrew its support and the media magnate attacked Monti's austerity as having pushed Italy into a "recessive spiral".

(Reporting by Steve Scherer, edited by Richard Meares)

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