Fitschen's Retirement

The Long Goodbye

Fitschen-Photothek-GettyImages
Deutsche Bank co-CEO Jürgen Fitschen hopes his last few months in office won't be taken up by court cases.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Deutsche Bank co-CEO Jürgen Fitschen, on trial in Munich, wants to clear his name before he leaves the bank in May.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Mr. Fitschen was asked to stay on as co-CEO to John Cryan to help smooth the transition.
    • On Tuesday, the judge in the Munich fraud case against Mr. Fitschen and four former Deutsche executives expressed doubt about many of the prosecution’s accusations.
    • Moody’s downgraded Deutsche Bank’s long-term debt to Baa1 from A3, with a negative outlook.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

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.

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