A longstanding legal dispute with the Kirch heirs could become even more expensive for Deutsche Bank. The scandal has already cost the bank about €1 billion ($1.33 billion) in settlement payments, legal fees, an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting and a double audit. Now another million could be added to the list.
The public prosecutor’s office in Munich wants the lender to participate in criminal proceedings as a secondary party against current co-chief executive Jürgen Fitschen and former bank executives, sources in financial circles said on Monday. The prosecutor’s office, the Munich regional court and Deutsche Bank were unwilling to comment.
Media entrepreneur Leo Kirch had sued the bank and former chief executive Rolf-E. Breuer for damages in 2002, after Mr. Breuer had questioned Mr. Kirch’s creditworthiness in an interview. Although both sides signed a settlement agreement at the beginning of the year, prosecutors recently filed a complaint for attempted fraud with the Munich regional court.
Mr. Fitschen, Mr. Breuer and former chief executive Josef Ackermann, former supervisory board chairman Clemens Börsig and former chief administrative officer Tessen von Heydebreck were allegedly involved in a conspiracy to ward off Kirch’s claims. The defendants deny the allegations. It remains unclear whether the court will allow the indictment against all the executives.
It isn't unusual for the authorities to shine a spotlight on a company when its current executives are under indictment.
It isn’t unusual for the authorities to shine a spotlight on a company when its current executives are under indictment. Their neglect could be an indication of poor supervision within the bank, which is an administrative offense under German law.
The maximum penalty is a fine of up to €1 million.
Deutsche Bank is not under indictment in the current case. Financial industry insiders note that the bank could only be fined if a manager is found guilty of committing an intentional act as an active officer of the company.
The bill can be even higher if unlawful gains were achieved as a result of the criminal acts, as these gains were then “skimmed off.” In 2008, electronics giant Siemens was ordered to pay a fine of €395 million in a bribery scandal. And Siemens wasn’t the only company the Munich prosecutors asked to pay up. The mechanical engineering company MAN had to pay a €150 million fine after a corruption scandal.
It is likely that Deutsche Bank does not have to worry about such large fines, given the sums it has already paid in the Kirch case.
Translated by Christopher Sultan