Josef Ackermann hasn’t exactly been free of controversy over his long banking career. The former head of Deutsche Bank is perhaps most famous in Germany for a picture of him brandishing a victory sign at the start of a trial into improper meddling in a company merger. The picture became a symbol here of the worst side of capitalism.
And so it wasn’t particularly surprising when Mr. Ackermann triggered a new wave of indignation toward the end of last year. At an event in Berlin, the investment banker said he didn’t see why he should relinquish portions of his bonuses, even if his former employer, Deutsche Bank, is in dire straits these days – the result of a crisis partly of his own making.
The troubles at Deutsche Bank have already forced his successor John Cryan to crack down on bonuses at Germany’s largest bank. Mr. Ackermann, who led the bank from 2002 to 2012, also said that he saw “no legal basis” for the bank to make retroactive claims on his bonuses.
That may be about to change. Germany’s top financial regulator, known here as BaFin, has announced a tightening of the rules when it comes to banker bonuses – basically freeing up employers to go after their top executives when they’ve done something wrong.