Deutsche Bank looking at long rap sheet and ailing finances 150 years since opening
Deutsche Bank opened for business 150 years ago at 21 Französische Strasse in Berlin, and the landmark anniversary sees the banking colossus fighting to recover financially after years of mismanagement and one expensive scandal too many.
It was founded one month before it opened its doors, and began by funding German industry and railroads in the 19th century. It helped bankroll the Nazis in the 20th Century, before becoming a traditional lender between World War II and the 90s. By 2008, it had become one of the three largest banks in the world.
PBS notes that the fallout from the 2008 global financial crisis revealed that some of the world's most powerful banks were involved in reckless financial dealings. Deutsche Bank took a particularly aggressive approach, according to the United States broadcaster, and the consequences are still playing out now, more than a decade later.
According to DW, Germany’s biggest lender has a global reputation for scandal, and as global finance went high-tech, high-risk, Deutsche Bank joined the game. It became a banker to Russian oligarchs, Iran, and the principal lender to Donald Trump after he’d gone bankrupt, before he ran for office as U.S. president. In 2015 Deutsche Bank was fined a record $2.5 billion dollars by U.S. and British authorities for its role in an interest rate scam between 2003 and 2007, and in 2016 the so-called Panama Papers investigation yielded allegations that the bank helped its customers transfer money from criminal activities to tax havens.
The scandal sheet includes accusations and fines for laundering money out of Russia, wire fraud and violating U.S. sanctions against countries that include Iran, Syria, Libya and Sudan.
Many of the scandals have resulted in massive penalties and settlements, and the 150th anniversary sees Deutsche Bank struggling financially. The bank reported a whopping loss for the last three months of 2019 and for the full year as it cut staff and wrote down the value of assets. The New York Times described it as one of Europe’s most troubled big lenders.