More than 17 years after media giant Kirch went bankrupt, Germany’s Supreme Court has drawn a line under the question of guilt. Three former top bankers can now breathe a sigh of relief.
The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on Thursday upheld the acquittal of former Deutsche Bank chiefs Rolf Breuer, Josef Ackermann and Jürgen Fitschen of fraud in connection with the bankruptcy of the Kirch media group.
The BGH rejected the public prosecutors’ appeal against the original not guilty verdict by a regional court in Munich.
The 2016 judgement contained no contradictions, gaps or false reasoning and therefore should be upheld, the BGH ruled.
It ends one of the longest-running legal disputes in German history.
What happened and when?
The former bosses were initially implicated in a civil trial surrounding the bankruptcy of media group Kirch and later of having made false statements under oath during their trial.
Media mogul Leo Kirch, who owned the Kirch group, brought the original claim against the three bankers 17 years ago.
He accused Breuer of deliberately causing the bankruptcy of his firm in 2002, following a targeted television interview where Breuer made statements about the Kirch group’s creditworthiness.
A few weeks after the interview the group declared insolvency.
Kirch media group had requested more than €2 billion ($2.2 billion) in damages. Deutsche Bank eventually settled out of court for €925 million.
The former bankers were accused during the civil trial of making false statements to reduce the payout that Deutsche Bank would be ordered to make to Kirch.