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BREAKING: ECB pressuring Deutsche Bank to confirm its new Chair as soon as possible; sources say it wants a smooth transition and enough time to scrutinise the candidate

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK is piling the pressure on Deutsche to find a new Chairman quickly, according to insider reports.  

Two sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters that the ECB has been in touch with the bank on a number of occasions, urging it to name a successor to current Chair Paul Achleitner.  

Achleitner has been in his post for ten years – overseeing the institution’s response to several AML and corruption scandals and surviving three no-confidence votes in the process.  

He has previously signalled that he will finally step aside next year, and the ECB are eager to see a replacement named as quick as possible to ensure a seamless transition.  

Its Chair Andrea Enria has personally requested a name in multiple “high-level communications,” with the bank in the past few months, inside sources have said.  

The sooner a replacement is nominated, the longer the ECB have to thoroughly vet the candidate, the sources stressed.  

And while it has been reported that Deutsche already had a shortlist for the position, the sources estimate that the final nomination would not be made until early 2022, leaving far less time for an in-depth examination of the candidate.  

Ensuring Deutsche can stay out of legal trouble is likely a key reason behind the ECB’s desire to scrutinise any replacement Chair at the bank.  

Deutsche – one of the world’s largest financial institutions – is only now beginning to see a profit again after a string of setbacks involving regulator fines, legal action and severe reputational damage.  

The bank was implicated in the FinCEN files leak of September 2020 and accused of allowing up to $1.3TRN to be laundered through its channels despite red flags being raised.  

It was fined $130M by US authorities in January at the conclusion of investigations into a bribery scheme. Other sources familiar with the bank’s business have indicated that more penalties could be coming from the US for “persistent shortcomings” in its AML systems.   

AML was also a cause for concern for German authorities as recently as last month – when BaFin told the bank to initiate further safeguards to prevent money laundering.  

Three people familiar with the selection process for the new chair have named the following individuals as shortlist candidates: 

  • Theodor Weimer (understood to be the preferred candidate) – head of the German stock exchange. Weimer has, however, previously dismissed the idea.  
  • Norbert Winkeljohann – Chair of pharmaceutical and life science company Bayer.  
  • Frank Witter – Current board member of Deutsche and previously chief of Volkswagen.  

According to one insider, Achleitner has previously tried to reassure investors that a successor search was underway by saying that his replacement’s name would likely begin with a ‘W’.  

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