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UPDATE 1-Letter sent to Deutsche Bank CEO contained powder
December 8, 2011 / 8:46 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Letter sent to Deutsche Bank CEO contained powder

* Powder in envelope may have been explosive-German police

* Substance looks homemade, not commercial, military--police

* Top German banker Ackermann always has bodyguards (Adds background)

By Maria Sheahan

FRANKFURT, Dec 8 (Reuters) - A suspicious envelope mailed to Deutsche Bank head Josef Ackermann, the face of capitalism in Germany, on Wednesday contained an apparent explosive powder that may have been homemade, police said on Thursday.

“What we had here was a powder, which indicates that we’re not dealing with commercial or military explosives,” Alexander Kiessling, a spokesman for Frankfurt police, said. “It could be something homemade, for instance made out of fireworks.”

Ackermann, 63, a Swiss who is the first non-German to head up Germany’s flagship lender, is one of the few senior managers in the country always surrounded by bodyguards. He is due to retire in May next year after over 10 years at the bank’s helm.

The letter incident occurred at a time when anti-capitalist protesters across the world are demonstrating against what they see as the excesses of bankers and financiers.

Security had been stepped up at Deutsche Bank offices around the world, banking sources said.

A banking source and a U.S. law enforcement official said an envelope with explosives in it was sent on Wednesday to Chief Executive Ackermann but it was intercepted before it got to him.

Police in Frankfurt confirmed that a suspicious package was sent to the bank’s headquarters in the city and that they were investigating, but they so far had been unable to confirm that it contained explosives.

Kiessling said the powder in the envelope raised the suspicion that it could detonate but that state police now had to examine the substance to determine what it was, a procedure that would probably take at least several hours.

Police declined to say whether there was a detonator in the envelope that could have ignited the powder. German police and banking sources said it was unclear who had sent the package.

The interception occurred a day before European leaders were due to hold a summit in Brussels to mull a way out of the sovereign debt crisis that started in Greece two years ago.

Germany is playing a leading role in efforts to save the euro currency zone from collapse, which has led to the imposition of austerity measures on Greece and other countries.

HIGH PROFILE

Ackermann is the highest paid CEO of a German blue-chip company, earning 9 million euros ($12.05 million) in 2010, and is known globally for his role as chairman of the Institute of International Finance, the bank lobbying group negotiating a private-sector contribution toward a Greek bailout.

Ackermann is credited with transforming Deutsche Bank into a “global champion”. He became a protagonist for Wall Street style payouts and a shareholder-driven management style.

Ackermann initially fell out of favour with the German establishment for saying Deutsche Bank was in need of a performance boost, an approach that some politicians feel clashes with the “social market economy”.

Last month, Ackermann was whistled and shouted at by members of the Occupy Movement in the northern German port city of Hamburg when he tried to give a speech. At one point he invited the masked demonstrators up on the podium to ask him questions.

A previous head of Deutsche Bank, Alfred Herrhausen, was assassinated by the Red Army Faction in November 1989. The leftist guerrilla group planted a roadside bomb near his home in Bad Homburg on the outskirts of Frankfurt and waited for his Mercedes-Benz limousine to drive by.

Since then Deutsche Bank has stepped up security procedures to protect its executives. The banking source said that since 2006 every item of mail sent to members of Deutsche Bank’s Executive Committee was checked. ($1 = 0.7468 euros) (Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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