Deutsche Bank co-CEO to face trial on false testimony charges
Deutsche Bank co-chief Juergen Fitschen will face trial in April on allegations he gave false evidence in a long-running legal battle with the defunct Kirch group, the court said Monday.
Fitschen and four others -- ex-CEOs Rolf Breuer and Josef Ackermann and former executives Clemens Boersig and Tessen von Heydebreck -- were all indicted last September and charged with the alleged attempted deception in the long-running case.
All five have denied any wrongdoing.
The higher regional court in Munich said in a statement on Monday that the trial would begin on April 28, with a total 13 hearings set aside lasting until at least August.
The executives have been accused of giving misleading evidence to judges in one of the suits brought by the late media magnate Leo Kirch against the bank.
Leo 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 accuse 66-year-old Fitschen -- who has headed Germany's biggest bank alongside Anshu Jain since 2012 -- and the other defendants of giving false testimony with the aim of having Kirch's lawsuit dismissed.
In the past, the bank has rejected the charges as unfounded.
But the charges against all five men are of an aggravated nature and so can carry a prison sentence of anywhere between six months and 10 years if guilty.
In the cases of Boersig and von Hedebreck, who had acted as witnesses in the Kirch trial, the two are accused of making unsworn false statements, which carry jail sentences of between three months and five years.
In addition to the damage done to Deutsche Bank's image, the bank itself could be fined up to 1.0 million euros if the court decides it participated in the deception.
A year ago, Deutsche Bank announced it would pay nearly one billion euros to settle the case.
And in the third quarter of last year alone, litigation costs pushed the bank into the red.
Deutsche Bank has found itself accused of a long list of wrongdoings in the past, including attempted manipulation of the currency markets, rigging the Libor and Euribor interest rates and doing business with countries subject to US sanctions such as Iran.
But co-CEOs Jain and Fitschen have attempted to clean up the bank's image since they took over.
In a reaction to the court's statement on Monday, the bank said: "It is Deutsche Bank's policy not to comment on ongoing litigation. The presumption of innocence applies to all current and former management board members."
© 2015 AFP