Remember how Deutsche Bank was embarking on it's new life without John Cryan and without about $20+ billion in fines paid over the last decade? Do you recall how Christian Sewing was going to get the place lean, mean and utilizing basic regulatory controls? Gone were the days of bleeding out both ends with deposits evaporating and legal costs setting world records. The new DB was a truly German operation; more careful, more focused, and no longer actually based in London.
Oh, and does it ring a bell when we mention that the bank was even feeling comfortable enough to let its chief regulatory officer go so that it could stop listening to her yell in French about how nothing had been fixed yet?
Well, funny story...
German authorities descended on Deutsche Bank AG, including its downtown Frankfurt headquarters, in a coordinated raid related to a money-laundering investigation.
More than six police vehicles, their blue lights flashing, pulled up to Deutsche Bank’s main offices shortly before 9 a.m., in an operation involving about 170 officers.
If Sewing and chairman Paul Achleitner are not in a full panic this morning, they're being much too German. For Achleitner, this has to be the end of the road. His reign as chairman has been about as successful as The Hindenburg, and the fact that he so wants to seem in control of a situation that is infamous for being dangerously out of control makes him look both deluded and incompetent. There is almost nothing Achleitner can point to at this point to argue that he's been an asset to the bank. He even handpicked Sewing to replace John Cryan - who he also handpicked - and now Sewing is totally gefickt, because...
The activities at Deutsche Bank AG that prompted a police raid on its headquarters took place as recently as this year, according to authorities.
While money-laundering suspicions stem from the 2016 disclosures known as the Panama Papers, the investigation covers the five-year period from 2013 to 2018, a spokeswoman for Frankfurt prosecutors said. The main suspects in the probe focused on a unit in the British Virgin Islands that processed 311 million euros ($354 million) in 2016 alone were two bank employees who were not identified beyond their ages -- 50 and 46.
At least some of this went down on Sewing's watch, meaning that Cryan is partially off the hook [which is somehow the best thing we've ever said about John Cryan] and the focus is now on Deutsche Bank's rudderless, desperate present as opposed to its rudderless, desperate recent past. The bank cannot stop bleeding deposits, but it's also hemorrhaging talent, dealing with a batshit European reality, and it's traders are somehow still incapable of filling out a fucking buy order correctly. The best thing that Deutsche had going for it was that they hadn't paid a multi-billion fine in like months.
As the Germans say; "Oopsies."
To be frank, even we were shocked to see this news this morning. It's truly hard to fathom that Deutsche is still so devoid of leadership and urgency that it had sirens blaring outside HQ this morning because people are still laundering money there. Commiting a financial crime inside Deutsche Bank in 2018 is the kind of scheme that it so profoundly stupid, it just might work. You're essentially hiding in the cross hairs. It's like a Hollywood producer deciding to become a sexual predator in 2018.
The only person inside Deutsche Bank who looks remotely not terrible today is chief regulatory officer Sylvie Matherat. When it leaked that Sewing had her on the chopping block, she apparently leaked back that Deutsche would be wise to keep her on as it had apparently not learned a blessed thing from its earlier troubles. Matherat has made it clear that Deutsche's controls are still pathetic and that something like this was bound to come to light. We'd be singing Matherat's praises a lot louder if she wasn't about to be fired for this. But don't worry, she hates Frankfurt anyway.