Last row, second seat from the front, close to the wall of the Munich district court. That’s where Jürgen Fitschen, co-chief executive of Deutshce Bank, sits every Tuesday in the fraud trial against Germany’s largest bank. And like so many Tuesdays before, he’s following the proceedings attentively, listening to accounts of a bygone era when Deutsche still wanted to be a cool, modern investment bank.
In front of Mr. Fitschen sits his predecessor, Josef (“Joe“) Ackermann, who led the bank for a decade until 2012. His head is bent down as though determined to devote the hours to meditation. In front of him sits another former chief executive, Rolf E. Breuer, arms crossed on the desk, scanning the room like a bull.
Occasionally, their facial expressions change abruptly when the two prosecutors reiterate old accusations that immediately elicit responses from their armada of attorneys.
They’ve gone through this ritual almost every Tuesday since last April, accused of misleading a German civil court about their alleged role in the 2002 bankruptcy of Kirch Media, a company run by the late Bavarian mogul Leo Kirch. It is easily the most high profile court case from thousands of lawsuits that Germany’s largest bank has faced since the 2008 financial crisis.
Mr. Fitschen, who currently leads Deutsche Bank alongside John Cryan, had a good day in court this Tuesday. The German may yet get to enjoy his retirement in May without a court indictment hanging over his head.