Deutsche Bank halts Kirch court case after raids on execs
The epic court case between Deutsche Bank and Kirch Media was interrupted on Monday after the bank claimed the judge was biased – after the offices of Deutsche’s top executives were raided by prosecutors.
Deutsche Bank CEO Joseph Ackermann as well as others at the top of the bank had the humiliation of seeing their offices searched last week, as officials looked for evidence to show the men were not truthful when addressing the court a few weeks ago, the Handelsblatt daily reported on Monday.
“We reject this action as unreasonable,” a spokesman for the bank told the paper – and the bank filed a complaint of bias at the Munich Higher Regional Court on Monday morning, where publishing mogul Friede Springer had just been sworn in to testify.
The bank claimed the judge had secretly told the prosecutor of his suspicions against the executives and former executives, prompting the raids – and had hidden files from the court. It also said that Kotschy was not acting impartially when accepting testimony, advising former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder who had been expected to speak to the court, not to.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung said the offices of Ackermann’s predecessor Rolf Breuer, head of the supervisory board Clemens Börsig and former board member Tessen von Heydebreck were also searched in raids by more than 30 officials. Breuer’s private property in Frankfurt and a holiday home in Austria were also searched, the paper said.
Judge Guido Kotschy cancelled all further planned court dates for the case, which is suspended while the bank’s claims of cooperation between the judge and prosecutor are checked by three other judges.
The case deals with the billion-euro collapse of the Kirch media empire in 2002, which Leo Kirch , who died this July, had blamed Deutsche Bank for. His KGL Group is continuing his claim against Deutsche Bank, claiming it deliberately pushed the group into a corner financially in order to get a lucrative restructuring mandate.