Deutsche Bank Said Named Defendant in Munich Court Case

Deutsche Bank AG was named as a civil defendant in the Munich criminal case against bank executives including Co-Chief Executive Officer Juergen Fitschen, who was charged earlier this month, a person with knowledge of the case said.

Prosecutors in Munich who have been probing the lender’s defense in civil litigation with the late media entrepreneur Leo Kirch added Deutsche Bank as an “associated party” in charges they filed against Fitschen and former CEOs Rolf Breuer and Josef Ackermann, said the person, who asked not to be named because the indictments are still private.

Deutsche Bank sought to end the 12-year-old dispute when it settled with the heirs of the media mogul in February for 925 million euros ($1.23 billion). In the criminal case, Deutsche Bank could face an administrative fine of as much as 1 million euros if at least one of the suspects is convicted of a crime committed while serving as an executive of the company. The Munich court still has to decide whether the charges can go to trial and Deutsche Bank becomes a civil defendant.

“An indictment has not yet been submitted to us,” the bank said in an e-mailed statement. It’s “our belief that the suspicion raised against Juergen Fitschen will prove unfounded,” the bank said, reiterating comments it made earlier on the case.

Ackermann’s attorney Hellen Schilling declined to comment on his charges. Fitschen’s lawyer, Hanns Feigen, and Sven Thomas, who defends Breuer, didn’t immediately reply to e-mails seeking comment.

Prosecutors opened the probe in 2011 after Ackermann, CEO at the time, testified in a Munich court that the bank didn’t seek any business from Kirch in 2002 before the group filed for bankruptcy. While the judges didn’t believe him and later ruled the bank was liable, prosecutors began an investigation against him and other former executives on suspicion they lied in court to fend off Kirch’s claims.

Last year, Fitschen was added to the list of suspects. He was probed for failing to correct in a timely manner factual statements made by Deutsche Bank in court filings after he allegedly became aware that the statements were incorrect.

The court can only fine the bank if it convicts Fitschen or Ackermann. Breuer, who also testified in the civil case in 2011, was no longer in office at the time.

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