Deutsche Bank Compliance Chief, 5 Board Member Offices Raided As Stock Hits All Time Low

Reeling from a Morgan Stanley downgrade of European Banks and a second day of raids on its Frankfurt headquarters, Deutsche Bank shares declined by another 3% on Friday to a new all time low just above €8, bringing the YTD loss to 50%.

DB

In what appears to be the latest in a string of financial crimes and scandals that have generated some $18 billion in fines since the financial crisis, prosecutors are investigating whether two employees in the bank's wealth management division helped clients set up accounts in offshore tax havens, including the British Virgin Islands, and possibly allowed criminals to move money through these shelters, some of which may have flowed through accounts at the bank (other employees may also have been involved, prosecutors said). According to Frankfurt prosecutors, the investigation, which stems from revelations contained in the 'Panama Papers', covers behavior that stretched through this year, meaning that it could become a blemish on the performance of the bank's newly-installed CEO Christian Sewing.

Before becoming CEO, Sewing was responsible for the bank's wealth management division as head of its retail bank, a position he held from 2015 to when he was offered the CEO job in April.

DB

According to the Financial Times the illicit transactions that two DB wealth management employees neglected to flag in 2016 alone stood at €311 million ($353 million), but people familiar with the case is almost certainly much larger, given that the suspicious activity continued for five years. The activity under investigation allegedly began in 2013.

As the raids continue, more details about the bank's alleged misconduct are trickling out. According to the Financial Times, the DB unit that's emerged as the focus of the investigation is a 100% owned subsidiary of DB that has been operating since 2010. 

The Deutsche unit at the core of the case is called Regula Limited, domiciled in Road Town on the British Virgin Islands, a person familiar with the matter told the Financial Times, confirming a report by German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung," which was one of the newspapers that led the reporting about the "Panama Papers" in 2016.

Regula has been listed as a 100 per cent-owned subsidiary in Deutsche Bank’s annual reports since 2010 and is classified as an “other enterprise” in its most recent annual report. Deutsche sold the entity in March 2018, according to the person.

DB has insisted that it had provided prosecutors with all the materials they had requested as part of their investigation, and that the bank was surprised by the raids. 

But if there's anything DB watchers should take away from the second day of raids, it's that prosecutors raided the office of DB board member and head of compliance Sylvie Matherat. This follows reports earlier in the week that Matherat and another DB executive were on the verge of being pushed out. Matherat generated headlines last year when she spoke out in an interview last year about the difficulty in improving the bank's fragmented compliance systems (in addition to Matherat, the offices of four other executives were also raided).

Matherat has told associates she might need to prepare to leave the bank, and has expressed unhappiness with what she described to some associates as constraints to improving financial-crime controls and mending Deutsche Bank’s relationships with regulators, some of the people say.

Matherat has told associates she might need to prepare to leave the bank, and has expressed unhappiness with what she described to some associates as constraints to improving financial-crime controls and mending Deutsche Bank’s relationships with regulators, some of the people say.

Given the deeply involved nature of the investigation, it's increasingly likely that the bank will need a scapegoat: Will it be Matherat?