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Deutsche Bank co-chief Fitschen apologizes after furor over phone call after tax raid

BERLIN - Deutsche Bank AG co-chief executive Juergen Fitschen has acknowledged calling a senior German politician following a raid at the bank's offices last week, and apologized in a newspaper interview printed Wednesday if the move had left the wrong impression.

Fitschen told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung he wanted to "expressly apologize" if people thought he tried to exert political influence on a legal case.

"I wanted to express my deep dismay about the impression that the incident (the raid) made abroad," the 64-year-old said of his call to Hesse state governor Volker Bouffier, noting that pictures of the raid were published around the world.

Some 500 police officers and prosecutors swooped on Deutsche Bank offices and private properties in Frankfurt, Berlin and Duesseldorf a week ago.

Fitschen told the paper he respected the independence of the legal process and insisted that the bank was co-operating with authorities in their investigation of suspected tax evasion, money laundering and attempted obstruction of justice. The bank confirmed his comments.

Deutsche Bank said the investigation began in spring 2010 and focuses on "a limited number of individuals" under suspicion of fraud connected with value-added tax in the trading of carbon emission certificates. Fitschen and chief finance officer Stefan Krause are among 25 people being investigated, the bank said.

The raid was one of a series of legal blows to Deutsche Bank in recent days.

Last week the bank lost a civil case brought by the heirs of German media mogul Leo Kirch. A Munich court agreed Friday with Kirch's heirs that Deutsche Bank had contributed to the 2002 bankruptcy of the Kirch Media group. The bank could be ordered to pay several hundred million euros (dollars) in compensation.

In a related case, a Frankfurt court has nixed decisions taken at Deutsche Bank's annual general meeting in May. The court ruled Tuesday that a lawyer for Kirch wasn't accorded the right to speak at the meeting, in breach of shareholder rights.

Both rulings can be appealed.


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