Ackermann offers to pay EUR 3.2m to end trial

24th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 November 2006 , Dusseldorf (dpa) - Leading German banker Josef Ackermann offered Friday a large payment to settle misappropriation charges and prosecutors agreed that his trial should be called off. It will be up to judges next Wednesday in the western German city of Dusseldorf to accept or reject the self-imposed fine. Ackermann, chief executive of Deutsche Bank, is on trial over decisions in 2000 when he was a board member of the Mannesmann telephone company. Ackermann said he would pay 3.2 million eu

 24 November 2006

Dusseldorf (dpa) - Leading German banker Josef Ackermann offered Friday a large payment to settle misappropriation charges and prosecutors agreed that his trial should be called off.

It will be up to judges next Wednesday in the western German city of Dusseldorf to accept or reject the self-imposed fine. Ackermann, chief executive of Deutsche Bank, is on trial over decisions in 2000 when he was a board member of the Mannesmann telephone company.

Ackermann said he would pay 3.2 million euros (4.1 million dollars) "out of my own pocket" without an admission of guilt.

At the start of the trial, his second on the same charges, he had told the court that his annual income was nearly 20 million euros.

Another of the six accused, Klaus Esser, offered 1.5 million euros in settlement. He is charged with aiding misappropriation when he obtained about 30 million euros in bonuses at his retirement as Mannesmann CEO in 2000. The company was taken over by Vodafone.

After an earlier acquittal, appeal judges had ordered a retrial of the case, ruling that the huge payments appeared to be a misuse of company money. Ackermann did not receive any Mannesmann bonus, but was a key member of the supervisory board which approved the bonuses.

Legal analysts said judges were likely to accept the terms after they were negotiated between the defence and prosecution.

It is common in Germany for accused persons to offer a large payment to charity in exchange for charges being quashed. The payment is regarded as a punishment, yet it saves judges' and lawyers' time and avoids the accused having to suffer a criminal record.

Ackermann had said earlier he would step down as Deutsche Bank chief if convicted of a crime.

Although both prosecution and defence agreed to the settlement Friday, the prosecutors do not have the power to call off a case. The trial judges must make up their own minds and can overrule them.

The charges arose from Vodafone's hostile takeover in 2000 of Mannesmann, which runs one of Germany's biggest wireless services.

Ackermann's lawyers, Eberhard Kempf and Klaus Volk, said they proposed the settlement because the case risked dragging on inconclusively. Volk appealed to judges to relieve Ackermann from the "burdens of a cruel trial."

Prosecutors said they did not regard conditional dismissal as a "trade-off with justice" but as appropriate to the legal situation, since there was no precedent of anyone being convicted in Germany over such bonuses.

They added that Mannesmann had not been crippled by the sums, nor had any of the six defendants offended in the past. The prosecutors said the most they would have proposed at sentencing would have been some kind of suspended sentence against the men.

Esser said Friday he was sure he had behaved rightly, but he would agree to a settlement to put an end to the dispute.

The six defendants oversaw payments totalling 57 million euros from Mannesmann funds. They were acquitted in 2004 of misappropriation, but a German appeal court ordered a full retrial.

DPA

Subject: German news

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