Prosecution calls for prisonterms in Mannesmann trial

30th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

30 June 2004 , DUSSELDORF - Prosecutors demanded prison terms ranging up to three years against Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann, former Mannesmann head Klaus Esser and ex-board chairman Joachim Funk in closing arguments of the Vodafone fraud trial Wednesday. Prosecutors told the bench they had proven their case that Ackermann and the other former Mannesmann figures had committed breach of trust by handing out generous bonuses to Mannesmann executives. However, conviction is doubtful since Presiding Judge

30 June 2004

DUSSELDORF - Prosecutors demanded prison terms ranging up to three years against Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann, former Mannesmann head Klaus Esser and ex-board chairman Joachim Funk in closing arguments of the Vodafone fraud trial Wednesday.

Prosecutors told the bench they had proven their case that Ackermann and the other former Mannesmann figures had committed breach of trust by handing out generous bonuses to Mannesmann executives.

However, conviction is doubtful since Presiding Judge Brigitte Koppenhoefer and other judges have gone on record saying the prosecution had failed to prove its case.

The defendants are accused of harming Mannesmann by rewarding top executives with huge bonuses just after they agreed to the company being taken over by British-based phone group Vodafone in 2000.

The judges have said German stock law may have been breached, but that is not the subject of this trial.

Defence lawyers, who have yet to make their closing arguments, said they were confident of acquittal on the criminal charges.

After the prosecution and defence have spoken two days apiece, the defendants will also be allowed to address the court.

The trial has been under way for five months, taking up 32 hearing days. Most of the defendants are retired, but Ackermann has had to structure a busy work week at the Frankfurt-based bank, Germany's biggest, around the hearings.

A member of the former Mannesmann supervisory board, he has told the court he relied on company lawyers' advice that what he did was legal and promptly corrected legal errors when told about them.

Nearly EUR 60 million was spent on bonuses and topping up pensions of a few executives who lost their jobs when Mannesmann submitted to takeover. The engineering group was broken up, as Vodafone only wanted its profitable mobile-phone-provider business.

The prosecutors argue that Mannesmann as a legal entity was entitled to better stewardship of its funds.

Former chief executive Klaus Esser, who received by far the largest bonus, is among the defendants and is accused of assisting in a breach of trust.

A decision in the case is expected next month.

DPA

Subject: German news

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