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Deutsche Bank CEO Is Ordered to Trial

September 19, 2003

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ A Duesseldorf court has ordered that Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann stand trial over his role as a board member of German wireless operator Mannesmann during a 2000 takeover by Vodafone, the bank said Friday.

Ackermann, then a Mannesmann board member, was charged in February with grave breach of trust against Mannesmann shareholders after prosecutors focused on payouts to some company officials after the deal was completed.

Court officials declined to provide information, and it wasn’t clear when a trial could take place.

Deutsche Bank spokesman Klaus Thoma said that employees were informed of the legal decision in an internal communication and that Ackermann had the full support of the bank’s board.

Ackermann, who took over as chief executive of Germany’s largest bank in May 2002, would defend his actions during the takeover ``with the utmost vigor,″ Thoma said.

Ackermann has strongly denied wrongdoing in the controversy over the merger. The stock swap deal was valued at $180 billion _ at the time, the largest corporate merger ever.

Prosecutors began examining the takeover in 2001, focusing on Mannesman chairman Klaus Esser’s decision to give up his bitter opposition to the hostile bid and about 150 million marks ($70 million) in compensation that was paid by Vodafone to Esser and other top Mannesmann officials.

Ackermann sat on the Mannesmann supervisory board that approved the disputed payments.

Neither the bank nor the court has provided information about other former board members who were charged. Juergen Pauly, attorney for former industrial union head Klaus Zwickel who was also charged in the case, said he could not comment on court decisions before they were published.

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