October 29, 2014 / 4:51 PM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Deutsche Bank settles dispute with four fired traders

* Deutsche Bank settles suit with fired traders - court

* Bank says has learned several important lessons

* Settlement details not disclosed - court (Adds Deutsche internal memo, background)

By Thomas Atkins

FRANKFURT, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank has agreed to settle a long-running dispute with four traders it had fired, ending an embarrassing chapter in which the bank was accused of management lapses that led to attempts to manipulate reference interest rates.

The settlement comes as Germany’s top lender intensifies efforts to clear a long backlog of legal disputes and investigations that have eroded profit and drove it to appoint a specialist board member charged with managing legal affairs.

A state labour court said on its website on Wednesday that the parties had agreed to settle out of court and a ruling on the case planned for next week had been cancelled. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

The court had forced Deutsche to reinstate the traders in February 2013, a decision that Germany’s top lender appealed.

The traders claimed wrongful dismissal after the bank accused them of violating company policy by inappropriately communicating with other traders about benchmark interbank lending rates.

As part of the settlement, the bank agreed to reinstate two of the junior traders in non-trading positions, while the two senior traders had agreed to leave the bank, Deutsche said in a memo to staff seen by Reuters.

Since the dispute, the bank put in new controls governing interest rate benchmark submissions to protect the integrity of the process. It has also firmed up its code of conduct surrounding internal communications, the bank said in the memo.

“Deutsche Bank has learned several important lessons from this matter,” the memo said.

Any settlement may prove costly for the bank, whose profitability has suffered badly due to legal costs, which drove Deutsche into the red in the third quarter of this year.

Deutsche has paid about 7 billion euros in fines and settlements since 2012, with billions more expected.

The London interbank offered rate or Libor and its European cousin Euribor are used to price hundreds of trillions of dollars in assets, from mortgages to derivatives.

The labour lawsuit has already proved embarrassing for Deutsche, because the court said the lender itself had contributed to the problems that led to the dismissals.

When deciding in favour of the traders in September, a Frankfurt judge said the bank had overseen organisational lapses that created a working environment that could have led to the rigging of interest rates.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the details of the settlement. The lawyer representing the four traders was not immediately reachable for comment. (Reporting by Thomas Atkins; Editing by Maria Sheahan and David Holmes)

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