Before court proceedings got underway on Tuesday, Rolf-Ernst Breuer, the former chief executive of Deutsche Bank, leaned against the judge’s bench as he has done so often before. But there was a difference this time: He was smiling.
The five current and former Deutsche Bank executives on trial in Munich may have to wait a few more days for the verdict, but it’s looking increasingly likely that they will be acquitted. On Tuesday, the defendants were visibly relieved.
The trial of Mr. Breuer together with current co-chief executive Jürgen Fitschen, former chief executive Josef Ackermann, ex-supervisory board chairman Clemens Börsig and ex-management board member Tessen von Heydebreck has been going on for almost a year in courtroom B273 of the Munich regional court.
They were accused of deceiving a court examining Deutsche Bank’s role in the 2002 bankruptcy of former client Kirch Media in order to avoid compensation claims. But Judge Peter Noll, who will issue the final verdict next week, has been unusually direct in the run-up to his decision. Last week he made clear he believed the prosecutors so far failed to prove the allegations against the men.
On Tuesday, in what was likely one of the final days in court, lawyers for the defense were clearly in good spirits as they delived their closing arguments. They expect prosecutors to lose.
“They’re now facing a case in tatters, but they don’t want to acknowledge the fiasco,” said Hanns Feigen, the defense attorney for Mr. Fitschen.