Finance ministry raises pressure on Deutsche Bank to clean up

Mon Jan 6, 2014 11:40am EST

Related Topics

* Finance Ministry seeks full and complete cleanup

* Deutsche, Bafin disagree over over some reform proposals

* Deutsche Bank says cooperating fully with regulators

FRANKFURT, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Germany's finance ministry piled pressure on Deutsche Bank to reform its corporate culture on Monday, adding its voice to that of the country's industry watchdog which said the bank had not done enough to clean up its act despite several scandals.

A strongly worded report by Bafin, Germany's financial regulator, was leaked to German media at the weekend - suggesting Deutsche Bank's co-chief executives Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen have made little impression with their efforts so far to restore the bank's reputation.

Bafin and other regulators are investigating Deutsche and more than a dozen other banks and brokerages over allegations they manipulated benchmark interest rates such as Libor and Euribor, which are used to benchmark trillions of dollars of financial products from derivatives to mortgages and credit card loans.

Separately, Deutsche faces several other lawsuits and investigations including a decade-old case led by heirs of the Kirch media empire and charges by the EU that it was among 13 investment banks that blocked access to the lucrative credit derivatives market. [ID: nL5N0IQ19U]

Bafin is approaching the end of its investigation into the interest rate accusations and has concluded, according to the report published in German weekly Der Spiegel, that Deutsche has not done enough to investigate and clear up the incident.

Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Kotthause said on Monday: "Bafin should and will vigorously pursue all accusations when it comes to the issue of the manipulation of interest rates."

"We attach great importance to ensuring that this gets truly cleared up fully and completely."

"ORGANISATIONAL SHORTCOMINGS"

Bafin's leaked report also said it was not clear "whether senior management was involved in or had knowledge of possible manipulation attempts", and pointed to "grave organisational shortcomings".

Bafin declined to comment on the report.

A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman said the bank was closely cooperating with Bafin in various investigations but declined to comment further. "No current or former member of the management board had any inappropriate involvement," she said.

Deutsche Bank has been in intensive talks with Bafin since the latter's interim report was completed in August. According to a source at the bank who declined to be named, they have agreed on some reforms, such as compliance systems to improve internal governance, but are still in disagreement on others.

In response to the financial crisis, Deutsche has attempted to tidy house by banning chatrooms, hiring a new head of compliance, forming oversight committees and erecting barriers between trading operations.

Co-CEOs Fitschen and Jain aim by 2015 to have a streamlined and more profitable organisation.

But investors remain cautious given the risk of further litigation and fines.

"This leaves some... discomfort about whether there are more issues to come," said one equity analyst at a major bank. "Litigation is going to stay high throughout all of 2014."

Deutsche shares are discounted accordingly, according to StarMine data, with an estimated forward price/book ratio of 0.6 compared to 0.9 on average for rivals, and a forward price/earnings ratio of 8.7 versus 11.8 for rivals.

Deutsche Bank was hit with more than 2.1 billion euros in penalties in December alone - one from the EU for rate rigging and another from the United States to settle claims over mortgage-backed securities sales.

The bank signalled in December that it might have to top up its 4.1 billion euro war chest for settlements and fines. (Reporting by Annika Breidthardt, Gernot Heller, Philipp Halstrick and Thomas Atkins; Editing by Sophie Walker)

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