March 14, 2018 / 1:40 PM / in 3 months

German supreme court says sentencing of ex-Oppenheim bankers not too lenient

KARLSRUHE, Germany (Reuters) - Germany’s supreme court ruled on Wednesday that a lower court had not been too lenient towards four ex-Sal Oppenheim bankers for their role in causing over 80 million euros ($99 million) in damages tied to risky investments and property transactions.

In July 2015, a Cologne court handed one of the four bankers a prison sentence of almost three years, while the other three received suspended prison sentences.

The prosecution had appealed the ruling, saying the punishment was not severe enough given the extent of the damage.

“The damage caused was high and the extent of the damage is an important criterion in sentencing, but it is not the decisive one,” Juergen Schaefer, the presiding judge at the Federal Court of Justice, said on Wednesday.

The circumstances of the crime were more important, he said.

The Cologne court had found the four bankers responsible for a decision in 2008 to grant German retail group Arcandor, which later went bankrupt, an unsecured loan of 20 million euros without seeking the approval of the bank’s supervisory board.

In addition, they had paid 59.8 million euros for newly issued Arcandor shares worth only 19.1 million euros.

They also caused damage of at least 23 million euros with a real estate investment in Frankfurt, the Cologne court said.

Sal. Oppenheim, founded in 1789, ran into trouble during the global financial crisis and was eventually bought by Deutsche Bank for 1 billion euros in 2010. The fraud trial related to events before the takeover by Deutsche Bank.

($1 = 0.8112 euros)

Reporting by Ursula Knapp; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Gareth Jones

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