German minister's letter promoted cousin's firm

BONN (Reuter) - The German Economics Minister, Jurgen Mollemann, said yesterday that letters on official stationery with his signature had been sent by an aide to companies promoting a product made by his cousin's company.

The minister told Bild newspaper that he routinely signed blank letter paper as a precautionary measure for use in his absence, but access to the paper was restricted to top aides. 'This was a mistake made by an aide that I regret and condemn,' he said.

Newspapers reported at the weekend that Mr Mollemann had written to leading supermarket chains recommending a security system for shopping trolleys produced by his cousin's company. In a separate radio interview, Mr Mollemann said the dispatch of the letters had already had consequences in the ministry, but he did not elaborate.

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