Deutsche Bank's co-CEO Jürgen Fitschen has refused to step down over tax fraud charges brought against Germany's biggest bank. The CEO is in the focus of a criminal investigation in which new allegations have surfaced.
Jürgen Fitschen rejected calls for him to resign in an interview with Germany's mass circulation Bild newspaper on Friday, saying he was "deeply shaken" by allegations he was personally involved in the tax-fraud scandal.
"I feel I am being treated unfairly, and will defend myself against the accusations," he said.
Fitschen is one of 25 Deutsche Bank employees who stand accused of tax evasion, money laundering and obstruction of justice in connection with fraudulent tax returns on carbon emission certificates.
The CEO, who heads Deutsche Bank together with Anshu Jain, signed the bank's 2009 tax declaration, in which value-added tax to the tune of 310 million euros ($405 million), stemming from EU emissions trading, was illegally claimed back from the German tax revenue service. Deutsche Bank claimed it had corrected the mistake in a timely manner and had waived the tax return for the preliminary period.
On Wednesday, German police raided Deutsche Bank premises in Frankfurt and other German cities, arresting five employees for attempting to obstruct the criminal investigation. The public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt said they were suspected of hiding and destroying evidence supporting the charges.
German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday that police conducted the raid because Deutsche Bank had handed over just one in a thousand e-mails concerning its emissions trade during a first search carried out in 2010. The newspaper quoted an unidentified source within Deutsche Bank who rejected claims of manipulating evidence, arguing that bank officials had unintentionally failed to present all documents because of the huge amount of data that had to be searched.
Deutsche Bank CEO Jürgen Fitschen said in the Bild interview that he regretted that the bank's ongoing internal investigation hadn't gotten further than it had so far. He also conceded that the lines of communication with the prosecutor's office had room for improvement.
uhe/pfd (dapd, AFP, Reuters)