Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board chairman, Paul Achleitner, came under renewed pressure this week after a shareholder asked for a special audit on the way the supervisory board and management had handled the bank’s various legal issues, including the scandal over manipulating Libor rates.
Shareholder Marita Lampatz filed the request for the audit via Munich-based lawyer Oliver Krauss on Wednesday. Mr. Krauss also requested three other special audits on the suitability of reserves for legal risks in the years 2011 to 2015, as well as on the spinoff of the bank’s Postbank subsidiary. The audits will look at whether Mr. Achleitner and other board members acted correctly in dealing with regulators and the fallout of the scandal.
Mr. Krauss said he had asked for the audits because he did not have faith in Deutsche Bank’s internal investigations. “Comparable internal investigations in recent years produced no results and were also not made transparent to shareholders,” he said.
The Munich attorney is a known fixture at Deutsche Bank’s annual meetings. In the past, he frequently asked questions about the ligation with the heirs of deceased media mogul Leo Kirch, and he eventually negotiated a settlement in the millions. He is also suing Deutsche Bank over the Postbank takeover on behalf of the company Effecten-Spiegel. Marita Lampatz’s husband, Holger Lampatz, is currently suing Deutsche Bank for €180 million in damages in connection with Oppenheim-Esch funds.
The request for a special audit greatly increases pressure on the bank to complete its ongoing internal investigation on the matter.
Deutsche Bank agreed to add a total of four motions to the agenda for its annual general meeting on May 19 but declined to give more details, saying: “The management board and supervisory board have chosen not to issue a statement on the additional proposals for resolutions.” The company is expected to comment on the matter at the annual meeting.
The request for a special audit greatly increases pressure on the bank to complete its ongoing internal investigation on the matter. It was originally hoped that the investigation results would be available by the time of the annual meeting, but now there could be delays.
If the investigations continue beyond the date of the annual meeting, some shareholders could accuse Mr. Achleitner of bias and even ask him to surrender his role as chairman of the meeting, something a supervisory board chairman always holds in shareholder meetings.
It would be the second dramatic annual meeting in a row, after last year’s vote of no confidence against then co-chief executives Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen.
The special audit will focus on the circumstances behind the €2.3 billion ($2.6 billion), fine the bank paid a year ago to British and American regulators over charges it manipulated Libor, the rate at which banks lend to each other. In their final report, the regulators had noted that the fine was higher than necessary because of a lack of cooperation on the part of the bank.
The lender had initially refused to release a report on the Libor scandal by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) to the British regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. Deutsche Bank subsequently launched an internal investigation to determine whether the regulators’ criticism was justified and why, for example, the BaFin report had not been released right away.