MUNICH (Reuters) - German state prosecutors searched Deutsche Bank’s (DBKGn.DE) offices in Frankfurt on Tuesday in another twist of the lender’s 12-year legal battle with the heirs of late media mogul Leo Kirch.
Munich prosecutors said they were investigating employees of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, as well as lawyers who represented the bank in the case on suspicion of attempted fraud.
They also searched the private home of one suspect in the German state of Hesse, home to Deutsche Bank’s Frankfurt headquarters, as part of the case.
Deutsche Bank confirmed that its offices had been searched but declined to provide further details.
Deutsche Bank’s legal battle with Kirch, one of Germany’s most acrimonious corporate disputes, revolved around the media magnate’s claim that ex-Deutsche Chief Executive and later Chairman Rolf Breuer triggered his media group’s downfall by questioning its creditworthiness in a 2002 television interview.
Kirch sought for years to recoup about 2 billion euros in damages. He died in 2011 at age 84 but his heirs carried on his battle with Deutsche Bank.
The dispute ended last month in a deal costing Deutsche Bank about 925 million euros ($1.27 billion).
But now prosecutors are investigating whether Co-Chief Executive Juergen Fitschen, his predecessors Josef Ackermann and Rolf Breuer and several other people gave misleading evidence in the civil suit brought by Kirch’s heirs.
On Monday, law firm Hengeler Mueller, which advised Deutsche Bank in the case, confirmed that its offices had been searched last week in connection with the case.
Reporting by Joern Poltz; Additional reporting by Alexander Huebner; Writing by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Ludwig Burger, Maria Sheahan and Louise Heavens