The head of one of Europe’s most powerful banks who is standing trial along with other directors of Mannesmann AG after it was acquired by Vodafone Group Plc, has condemned the charges against him that could see him jailed for up to 10 years.
The chief executive of Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann, along with the former Mannesmann CEO Klaus Esser, plus four other board members, are currently facing fraud-related charges in Dusseldorf. The men are charged with criminally approving severance packages worth a total of 60m pounds ($110m) for Esser and other managers of the conglomerate, which was brought for $180bn in 2001.
The others facing charges include Klaus Zwickel (former head of IG Metall, Germany’s largest union), Dietmar Droste (former Mannesmann personnel chief), Joachim Funk (the ex-supervisory board head), and Jurgen Ladberg (former works council chief). The defendants say the board made the awards to recognize management’s success in forcing Vodafone to raise its bid by nearly 30%.
The long takeover battle for Mannesmann was an emotional issue in Germany, where there was general hostility to one of the cornerstones of the country’s economy being acquired by an overseas mobile phone operator. In other countries, such payments would barely have raised eyebrows as top executives have little incentive to stay on after a takeover and Vodafone needed Esser’s expertise in particular to mastermind the sale of Mannesmann’s core engineering interests.
This is the only country where people who are creating value go to court for doing so, said Ackermann before heading into court to face the charges against him.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire