Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
April 25, 2016 5:35 a.m. ET
MUNICH— Deutsche Bank
co-Chief Executive Jürgen Fitschen was acquitted Monday of allegations of giving false testimony as part of a legal dispute involving Kirch Media Group that lasted more than a decade.
Mr. Fitschen and other former bank executives had been accused of giving false testimony in a civil suit in connection with the collapse of German media mogul Leo Kirch‘s company. The court also dismissed charges against Mr. Fitschen’s predecessors, Rolf Breuer and Josef Ackermann, and two other former management board members, Clemens Boersig and Tessen von Heydebreck.
The suit stems from a 2002 television interview given by Deutsche Bank’s then-CEO, Mr. Breuer, in which he said that the financial sector seemed unwilling to provide any further loans or equity to the Kirch Group. The late Mr. Kirch, a Deutsche Bank client, sued the bank, accusing Mr. Breuer of violating his confidentiality rights under German banking laws. He also alleged that Mr. Breuer tried to damage his company to obtain a lucrative deal to split up the media empire.
The parties settled the dispute on the Kirch company’s downfall last year, with Deutsche Bank agreeing to pay roughly €925 million ($1.04 billion) to Mr. Kirch’s heirs, though without admitting to any wrongdoing and denying the allegations.
Although that dispute has since been settled, Bavarian prosecutors began in 2011 to investigate whether former bank executives had given inaccurate testimony in court to avoid a costly fine for the bank. Mr. Fitschen, who had also testified in hearings, was included as a subject of investigation in 2013.