Deutsche Bank We Band of Bankers

The bankers on trial in Munich are already being punished by having to associate with one another and band together before the law.
Herd mentality.

We don’t know whether or not the spectacular criminal case against the five Deutsche Bank executives in Munich will ever result in a verdict.

It’s a complicated case, made more complex by the defense counsel who has focused on the ambitious prosecutor. This draws together the quintet in the dock, managers who in past years had been at loggerheads, doing each other down.

It is punishment enough for this line-up to be compelled to associate together as a group to defy justice.

Observers may recall how Josef Ackermann and Clemens Börsig were once involved in a strange conspiracy. It was certainly unusual – like a Baselitz painting in a conference room – that Mr. Börsig, chairman of the supervisory board at the time, suddenly wanted to be chief executive.

It is punishment enough for this line-up to be compelled to associate together as a group to defy justice.

Mr. Ackermann, a crafty Swiss manager who seems to have principles, retaliated when leaving his post as chief executive with a career plan in the opposite direction: He, the chief executive, wanted to become chairman of the supervisory board, just as beforehand, the chairman of the supervisory board wanted to be chief executive. 

Even if Mr. Ackermann’s plan didn’t work out, at least it had the happy side effect of making Mr. Börsig redundant as supervisory board head.

These are the kinds of tales that bind together the bankers in Munich.

Take Jürgen Fitschen, the chief executive. He has made it his business to deal with his past – and that of Mr. Ackermann.

But everybody knows that back then, Mr. Ackermann preferred to bet on Axel Weber for a fresh start and is probably wondering what's up with a model that allows Mr. Fitschen to be counterpart to co-chief executive Anshu Jain, whose investment banking staff brought the bank billion-euro headaches.  

And joining this group psychology in the courtroom, there's still a sense of the arrogance personified by Rolf Breuer. The one-time fast-talking bank boss whose statements in a 2002 TV interview triggered a chain of events – including this trial in Munich which reunites people who probably have little to say other than a few malicious comments.   


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