/ 14 September 2009

Sarkozy threatens to walk out of G20

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is ready to walk out of next week’s G20 summit if no progress is achieved on curbing bankers’ bonuses, his chief of staff said on Monday.

“There must absolutely be an agreement to make things change and the president is absolutely determined on that score,” said Claude Gueant, the secretary general of the Elysee, on RTL radio.

Sarkozy will be leading a charge for tough curbs on bonus payments for bankers at the G20 meeting of the world’s major economies in the United States city of Pittsburg on September 24 and 25.

France argues that the big payouts reward the risk-taking that led to the 2008 financial meltdown.

Already, at the G20 summit in London in April, Sarkozy had threatened to storm out of the gathering and later credited this threat for an agreement on steps to clamp down on tax havens.

Sarkozy’s proposals for capping bankers’ bonuses has won support in the European Union, but Britain and the US have voiced reservations.

Asked whether Sarkozy was ready to walk out of the Pittsburg summit if no progress was achieved, Gueant said this possibility must be “taken seriously”.

“The head of state is extremely determined as he was at the G20 in London a few months ago when he pushed for his proposals on tax havens to be agreed,” he said.

The G20 summit in Pittsburg will focus on tightening global financial regulation at a time when some major economies are beginning to pull out of recession and some banks are preparing to pay out large staff bonuses. — AFP