The chair of the US Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, recently held a call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president who is leading his country’s fight against Russian invaders.
Or so Powell thought.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that what Powell believed to be an official conversation in January was actually a prank call from two Russians, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, supporters of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
Clips of the conversation, widely circulated online, show Powell appearing to address topics including inflation and the Russian central bank.
At one point, the pranksters ask: “In your opinion, which countries also suffered more from recent political situations [economically]?”
Powell says: “Well I would say not the United States. We have our own energy here so it’s really not us … You know better than I do, but it’s going to be … Poland and the eastern European countries that are … close to Ukraine.”
He adds: “We all see what’s happening, people like me just want to support you in any way we can but I have limited ways to do that in my professional job.”
The conversation pivots to inflation rates, the pranksters asking: “The decrease in inflation is clearly less than we’d like and if it starts to rise, is the Fed ready to raise the rates sharply again?”
Powell says: “Yes of course. If we need to raise our rates more, then we’ll absolutely do that. We raised rates very sharply, historically sharply last year, to get to the place we’re at now.”
The Fed said the video, which has been broadcast on Russian state television, appeared to have been edited. The Fed could not confirm its accuracy, Bloomberg reported.
In a statement, a Fed spokesperson acknowledged the conversation, saying: “Chair Powell participated in a conversation in January with someone who misrepresented himself as the Ukrainian president.
“It was a friendly conversation and took place in a context of our standing in support of the Ukrainian people in this challenging time. No sensitive or confidential information was discussed.”
The spokesperson also said the “matter has been referred to appropriate law enforcement, and out of respect for their efforts, we won’t be commenting further”.
The two Russian pranksters have held conversations with other policymakers including Christine Lagarde, the head of the European Central Bank, with whom they also pretended to be Zelenskiy.
“The president agreed to this conversation in good faith, also to demonstrate her support for Ukraine and its people defending themselves from Russia’s war of aggression,” an ECB spokesperson told Bloomberg.
Other pranked leaders include the former German chancellor Angela Merkel and the Polish president, Andrzej Duda.
( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )