Germany’s largest lender Deutsche Bank has apologized for wrongdoing in full-page German ads that ran in 10 of the country's national newspapers over the weekend and were signed by Chief Executive John Cryan on behalf of the bank's top management.
Legal cases had cost the Frankfurt-based financial firm "reputation and trust" as well as an additional €5 billion ($5.4 billion) set aside for settlements since Mr. Cryan himself took over as CEO in mid-2015, the letter states. The bank's legal costs, stemming from thousands of cases against the bank, have been well over €10 billion since 2012.
"I would like to take this opportunity to express, also on behalf of the Management Board of Deutsche Bank, our deep regret for what happened. We would like to apologize sincerely," Mr. Cryan wrote in an English-language version of the letter that was also posted on the bank's website, adding that the "bulk of our major legal issues" had now been settled.
The CEO admitted to "serious errors" that had for instance been made in mortgage transactions in the U.S. between 2005 and 2007, which alone cost the bank more than €7 billion in a legal settlement agreed last month. "Conduct at that time did not meet our standards and was completely unacceptable. Unfortunately the same also applies in other instances," the letter continued.
However, Mr. Cryan also blamed the "misconduct of a relatively small number of individuals" for putting the bank at risk due to their short-term interests, adding that most employees had nothing to do with the cases the bank had recently been dealing with.
Deutsche on Thursday reported a €1.9 billion net loss in the fourth quarter, weighed down by heavy litigation costs and the scaling back of its investment banking activities, which saw it lose out on a fourth-quarter market rally.
The bank’s full year loss came in at €1.4 billion, compared to a record loss of €6.8 billion in 2015, also due to high litigation charges and restructuring costs.