Under fire, Deutsche Bank CEO may step down early

Under fire, Deutsche Bank CEO may step down early

Ackermann's term expires next year, but it will be untenable for him to continue at the helm of Germany's largest bank if charges that he made fraudulent statements before a court are substantiated, according to financial market analysts in Frankfurt.

His image as Germany's top banker has already been tarnished by a police raid on his office last week as well as by the opening of a new investigation against him in connection with the ongoing court case about the compensation claims of the Munich-based Kirch Media company, which went bankrupt about ten years ago, they said.

Deutsche Bank's supervisory board had on July 26 named India-born Anshu Jain as co-CEO together with his management board colleague Juergen Fitschen to succeed Ackermann when he leaves office in May next year.

The bank's leadership had also agreed that Ackermann will replace present supervisory board chairman Clemens Boersig, who will retire in May, one year ahead of his term expiring.

However, Deutsche Bank announced unexpectedly on Monday evening that he will not become a member of the supervisory board.

Ackermann, 63, has informed the supervisory board that he will no longer be available as a candidate for the supervisory board when he leaves the management board, Deutsche Bank said in a press statement.

He told the supervisory board that the extremely challenging conditions in international financial markets and in the political-regulatory environment demanded his full attention as chairman of the management board.

This will not give him enough time for dialogue with individual shareholders, the statement said.

Subsequently, Paul Achleitner, the management board member of Allianz, was nominated as chairman of the supervisory board to succeed Boersig, the statement said.

It made no mention of the investigation against Ackermann or the police raid on his office.

However, media reports said a team of investigators searched the offices of Ackermann and other management board members and the bank's legal department in Frankfurt between Tuesday and Friday.

They also raided the private residence of former Deutsche Bank CEO Rolf Breuer.
These investigations will be continued, the reports said.

The investigations are also focused on Boersig and former head of the personnel department, Tessen von Heyderbreck, who are also suspected of giving fraudulent information to the court during hearings on the compensation claims of Kirch Media.

The company claimed damages running into several million euros from Deutsche Bank, arguing that banks stopped lending to the company after Breuer in an interview expressed doubts about the company's credit-worthiness and thereby contributed to its insolvency in 2002.

Breuer is scheduled to appear before the regional court in Munich on November 24 on charges of attempting to deceive the court.

Deutsche Bank and its board members rejected the charges by the state prosecutor in Munich as baseless and described its actions as disproportionate, media reports said, quoting a bank spokesman.

Ackermann's decision in July to move to the supervisory board was controversial, because under Germany's banking regulations, a management board member should adhere to a waiting period of two years before joining the supervisory board.

His plans were criticised at that time by some investors and political leaders.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble welcomed Ackermann's decision not to move to the supervisory board.

A management board member is not supposed to shift directly to the supervisory board, he said in a newspaper interview.

"If Deutsche Bank is now sticking to the code of conduct of good governance, I cannot criticise that," Schaeuble said.