The headquarters of Germany's Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. Picture: REUTERS/RALPH ORLOWSKI
The headquarters of Germany's Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. Picture: REUTERS/RALPH ORLOWSKI

New York  — Deutsche Bank will pay nearly $125m to avoid US prosecution on charges it engaged in foreign bribery schemes and manipulated precious metals markets, the latest blow for the bank as it tries to rebound from a series of scandals.

Germany's largest lender agreed to the payout as it entered a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the US department of justice, and a related civil settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Almost all of the payout relates to charges Deutsche Bank violated the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) over its dealings in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China and Italy, court papers show. Nearly two-thirds of the payout is a criminal fine.

The settlements were made public on Friday at a hearing in the federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

“Deutsche Bank engaged in a criminal scheme to conceal payments to so-called consultants worldwide who served as conduits for bribes to foreign officials and others,” to win and retain “lucrative business projects”, acting US attorney Seth DuCharme in Brooklyn said in a statement.

“We take responsibility for these past actions”, after  “thorough”  internal probes and full co-operation with authorities, a bank spokesperson said. They occurred from 2008 to 2017.

Deutsche Bank has been trying to restore profitability after five years of losses, including by exiting some businesses and reducing its workforce by 18,000.

It has also been trying to restore its image in Washington amid several investigations into its dealings with US President Donald Trump, a client.

Prosecutors accused Deutsche Bank of violating books-and-records provisions of the FCPA, which forbids companies with US operations from paying bribes elsewhere.

They said the violations included disguising bribes paid to a client's “decisionmaker” in Saudi Arabia as “referral fees”, and recording millions of dollars of payments to an intermediary for an Abu Dhabi official as “consultancy” fees.

The SEC also accused Deutsche Bank of making improper payments to a consultant to help establish a clean energy investment fund with a Chinese government entity, and to an Italian tax judge for referring wealthy clients.

In the metals case, prosecutors accused Deutsche Bank traders of placing fraudulent trades, known as spoofing, to induce other traders to buy and sell futures contracts at prices they otherwise would not have.

In 2019, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $16.2m to resolve SEC charges it violated the FCPA by hiring unqualified relatives of government officials in China and Russia to win or retain business.



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