Deutsche Bank CEO cleared of false testimony charge

25th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Deutsche Bank co-CEO Juergen Fitschen on Monday was cleared of charges of giving false testimony in a legal battle with the defunct Kirch media group.

"After a year-long trial, we can establish that the allegations have not been proven," presiding judge Peter Noll told the higher regional court in the southern city of Munich.

A guilty verdict would have dealt a severe blow to Germany's biggest lender as it struggles to clean up its image in the wake of a long list of legal challenges in recent years.

Fitschen and four others -- ex-chief executives Rolf Breuer and Josef Ackermann and former executives Clemens Boersig and Tessen von Heydebreck -- had been accused of giving misleading evidence to judges in one of the lawsuits brought by the late media magnate Leo Kirch against the bank.

If found guilty, they could have faced prison sentences of up to 10 years.

But all five were acquitted on Monday.

Kirch, who died aged 84 in 2011, had accused Deutsche Bank of causing the downfall of his media empire in 2002 when the bank's then chief executive, Breuer, publicly questioned the group's creditworthiness in a television interview.

Prosecutors accused Fitschen -- who has co-headed Germany's biggest bank since 2012 but is scheduled to step down after the group's annual shareholder meeting in May -- and the other defendants of giving false testimony with the aim of having Kirch's lawsuit dismissed.

Deutsche Bank is currently embroiled in several different legal battles, with the accusations ranging from manipulation of the currency markets and rigging the Libor and Euribor interest rates, to doing business with countries subject to US sanctions such as Iran.

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© 2016 AFP

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