Many are scratching their heads in disbelief that Deutsche CEO Josef Ackermann is to have his day in court to defend his honour following the bringing of charges against him and others in connection with the 2000 Vodafone takeover of Mannesmann. He stands accused of a 'breach of trust' as German prosecutors allege he should not have sanctioned the fairly large bonuses that were paid to departing Mannesmann executives, at the time he was on the company's supervisory board. The charges are a nonsense and will no doubt eventually be thrown out. Now, it appears, he is the subject of another investigation, which has quickly been leaked to the press. But by who, and why ?
Another German prosecutor has confirmed that he is looking into allegations that Ackermann and Rolf Breur, the chairman of Deutsche Bank's supervisory board and president of the German banking association, are under investigation in connection with the sale of an insurance business, Deutsche Herold, the bank sold to Zurich Financial Services last year.
Full details remain rather sketchy, although dragging in the Deutsche duo smacks to many of a vendetta. The fact that there is an investigation in progress was also leaked to the media. Deutsche Bank is said to be dismayed, especially as the German prosecutors themselves don't seem to yet know if there is a case to answer and, if so, what that case will be.
Ackermann's 'crime' may actually only be found to be that he is a Swiss national in charge of a German bank. He has also ruffled a few feathers since he became CEO and is said to have upset some of the traditionalists at the bank, who resent an investment banker running the show. Talk of Deutsche quitting Germany for the City or New York will also be put down to Ackermann not being a national, and will do nothing to endear him to the Germany banking community.
Perhaps this is a conspiracy theory where none exists, but the fact remains that someone is leaking and others are making life very difficult for the Deutsche boss.