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IG Metall, Deutsche Bank Chiefs Face Probe Related to Mannesmann Takeover

The head of powerful engineering union IG Metall and the chairman of Deutsche Bank could be facing court charges related to large retirement and severance packages approved at Mannesmann during the takeover by Vodafone.

The head of Germany's powerful engineering union IG Metall and the chairman of Deutsche Bank AG could both be facing court charges related to large retirement and severance packages approved at Mannesmann during the takeover of the company by Britain's Vodafone PLC two years ago.

According to a report in the German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, union head Klaus Zwickel — who was a member of Mannesmann's supervisory board at the time of the payouts in question – and Deutsche Bank Chairman Josef Ackermann are among the group of eleven individuals under investigation for breach of trust and are likely to face charges filed by the Düsseldorf state attorney, according to the newspaper.

A spokesman for Ackermann told Handelsblatt that a charge of breach of trust would be "unfounded."

Simone Kämpfer, spokeswoman for the state attorney's office,
declined to comment on the article. But she did say that the evidence has been examined and comprehensive discussions have taken place with the persons in question. The investigation has been underway for two years. The state attorney is now awaiting a statement from the defense, she said.

Zwickel said in August of last year that he was wrong to abstain from voting on the payouts.

Former Mannesmann chief executive Klaus Esser, who may also be charged, received a golden parachute of around 60 million marks (31 million euros). Esser's team received bonuses totaling 31 million marks(16 million euros), and 18 retired management-board members including former personnel managers and family members of deceased board members received a further 60 million marks, according to the newspaper.

Suspicions that the payouts were meant as poison-pill defenses or as bribes were not borne out by the evidence. But according to the newspaper, prosecutors believe there were irregular payments made that were not in the interest of the company.

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