Deutsche Bank chief criticised for skipping Libor hearing

BERLIN Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:45pm EST

BERLIN Nov 22 (Reuters) - German politicians accused Deutsche Bank's co-CEO Anshu Jain of "chickening out" after the bank decided to send his chief compliance officer in his place to a parliamentary hearing on Libor manpulation next week.

Politicians from the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens attacked the decision not to send Jain, an Indian-born banker who became co-head of Germany's largest bank in June, to a Nov. 28 finance committee hearing.

"Mr. Jain is chickening out," said Green party politician Gerhard Schick, calling the decision not to attend "unacceptable".

Deutsche Bank will instead send Stephan Leithner, head of personnel and compliance. Jain was head of the investment bank at the time the alleged manipulation took place.

The move could add tension to an already strained relationship between bankers, who prefer to keep out of the public eye, and politicians, who are eager to show their constituents they are cracking down on the freewheeling world of global finance.

In the United States, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein faced a barrage of politically charged questions at a Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee about the causes of the financial crisis.

The Green party had invited Jain personally, not Deutsche Bank as an institution, Schick said on Thursday.

"You can't treat parliament like this," he added.

Lothar Binding, financial spokesman for the SPD said Jain had made a "bad decision".

"In a sense this is symptomatic of bankers, who want to be powerful in the background, but then duck away when the public wants to know what they are up to," Binding said.

Birgit Reinemund, chair of the committee and a member of the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), acknowledged that Deutsche Bank had not given a reason for the switch but said it was not unusual.

In a statement, Deutsche Bank said. "We have a tradition of assisting the Bundestag in its requests for information and will do so as a matter of course in this instance."

The European Commission and other international regulators are investigating more than a dozen banks for alleged manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR), which is used to set the price of trillions of dollars worth of financial products worldwide.

Any banks found guilty of breaching EU antitrust rules could face fines of up to 10 percent of their global revenues.

Deutsche Bank said in July initial findings from an internal probe into alleged rigging of global interest rates found that no members of the management board behaved inappropriately.

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