- Attorneys for co-CEO Fitschen and for bank seek acquittals
- Munich court to deliver verdicts in year-long trial April 25
Deutsche Bank AG co-Chief Executive Officer Juergen Fitschen’s attorney told a Munich court that the fraud trial of his client is another case of German prosecutors bringing another frivolous case that was doomed from the start.
Fitschen’s lawyer, Hanns Feigen, represented former Porsche SE CEO Wendelin Wiedeking in a trial in Stuttgart, where the judge last month acquitted all the men accused of manipulating Volkswagen AG shares. Feigen argued Tuesday that the Munich case -- where Fitschen, Deutsche Bank and several other executives are accused of deceiving a court -- should yield the same result.
“To sum up my closing argument is easy: It’s enough to cite the presiding judge in the Stuttgart case,” Feigen said. “There’s nothing to the allegations, absolutely nothing.”
Fitschen, former CEOs Josef Ackermann and Rolf Breuer and two others have been on trial for almost a year, accused of lying to fend off a 2 billion-euro ($2.3 billion) lawsuit related to the collapse of Leo Kirch’s media empire. Kirch had claimed Breuer caused his demise by questioning its creditworthiness in a 2002 Bloomberg television interview.
Attorneys for the executives and the bank asked the court for acquittals. Closing remarks from the defendants and the court’s verdict are scheduled for April 25.
Prosecutors last week had asked for terms of up to 3 1/2 years even after the court dismissed their last-minute bid to have the bank searched again for documents. Presiding Judge Peter Noll told the parties last week that the court thinks the trial didn’t back up the allegations.
The case could yield another setback for German prosecutors in a high-profile white-collar criminal trial. Last month, Wiedeking and ex-Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter were cleared in Stuttgart of charges they manipulated Volkswagen AG shares during a failed 2008 takeover.
Prosecutors have appealed the court’s denial of their search request, which delayed the trial. They have kept the court busy for weeks with motions for new evidence, forcing additional hearings. Klaus Volk, a defense lawyer for ex-board member Tessen von Heydebreck, criticized prosecutors.
“Even FC Bayern Munich is sometimes stunned to learn that it is losing home games,” Volk said. “But the club would never come up with the idea to ask for extra time just because it’s lagging behind.”