Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank, will today seek a financial settlement with four traders it fired for manipulating interest rates in a case that has raised questions about the role of the co-chief executive, Anshu Jain.
It comes as the bank is struggling to extricate itself from a wave of legal disputes.
Deutsche Bank fired four of its senior interest-rate traders in February 2013 on suspicion of having manipulated the so-called London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, and its euro-currency equivalent, Euribor.
Their dismissal came after regulators worldwide began an investigation into interbank lending rates in 2012, amid suspicions that several major institutions were manipulating the rates at which they lend to each other in order to make an unlawful profit.
The investigations have resulted in heavy fines for some of the world’s biggest investment banks, and the departure of several chief executives.
Michael Huensler, a fund manager at Assenagon Asset Management in Munich, told Handelsblatt Global Edition that he believed Deutsche Bank’s top management had overhauled the bank’s culture and committed to its expansion, but were still haunted by the ongoing legal problems.
“It is fair to say that Deutsche Bank is suffering from reputational damage in terms of mishaps at the investment bank. The stock price is lagging behind its peer,” Mr. Huensler said. “Of course, these are legacy problems, but Deutsche Bank is one of the few banks where the senior executives date from that era so you could argue that they were part of the problem. Most other banks lost their top level over this.”
Mr. Huensler insisted however that while it was not ideal that its senior managers had been distracted by the lawsuits, neither the bank, nor major shareholders have “actively pursued” replacing them.
Regulators in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have fined Deutsche Bank and other banks for rigging rates. Barclays agreed in 2012 to pay $453 million to settle allegations it had manipulated Libor. European regulators fined a group including Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Société Generale $2.3 million in December 2013.
Media reports last month said U.S. regulators now want to send supervisors into the U.S. offices of Deutsche Bank and Barclays to check currency transactions.
“Deutsche Bank has not yet closed this chapter. Important negotiations with authorities in Europe and the United States still have to be concluded,” said Ingo Frommen, analyst at German bank LBBW. “This will probably involve large sums of money, which will weigh on Deutsche Bank’s finances.”