A lawyer hired by Deutsche Bank to investigate a string of scandals has suddenly left his post. His resignation followed an unusually public spat over whether he had gone too far by honing in on the bank's own chairman.
Deutsche Bank said in a statement that Georg Thoma, a member of the supervisory board's integrity committee, would be stepping down two years earlier than originally planned.
Lately, Thoma had been trying to establish whether Paul Achleitner, the board's chairman, had a hand in misleading British and American authorities during their investigations into the manipulation of the Euribor and Libor inter-bank lending rates - for which Deutsche Bank was fined $2.5 billion (2.19 billion euros).
Media reports suggested Thoma was not leaving of his own accord, but that his resignation was the result of internal pressure from other board members, some of whom had criticized him during interviews with German newspapers. Deutsche Bank gave no reason for his departure and lauded him in a statement for his "outstanding service."
Out in the open
Germany's largest lender is currently embroiled in thousands of legal cases. Last year, Deutsche Bank said it had spent more than 5 billion euros on legal costs, a hefty sum that contributed to its record loss of 6.8 billion euros.
Thoma was brought in by Achleitner, who was eager to repair the bank's reputation after its scandal-plagued year. The bank also cut thousands of jobs and moved to swap out its chief executives, with John Cryan, a former UBS banker, taking over the role that Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen once shared.
Jain left last year, while Fitschen plans to follow suit after the bank's annual shareholder meeting in May this year.
Thoma, a long-time acquaintance of Achleitner's, had launched a number of inquiries into top Deutsche Bank executives, but he ran into especially stern resistance when he set his sights on Achleitner himself.
"With his overzealousness and judicial self-realization, Dr. Thoma is increasingly encountering criticism," said the chairman of Deutsche Bank's staff council and the deputy chairman of its supervisory board, Alfred Herling, in an interview with Germany's conservative-leaning Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Such public admonishment is uncommon in the world of German banking.
cjc/hg (AFP, Reuters, dpa)