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Deutsche Bank chief executive Christian Sewing and his top team are waiving a tiny fraction of their 2021 bonuses, in a rare move intended to show that management is bearing some blame for the use of unapproved messaging applications at Germany’s largest bank.
The ten members of Deutsche’s executive board offered to forego €75,000 each in variable pay and the bank’s supervisory board accepted, according to four people familiar with the matter.
Deutsche Bank is among several financial institutions under investigation by US regulators over employees’ use of personal messaging applications, including WhatsApp.
The practice, which can evade the detailed record keeping that regulators require from banks, ballooned during the pandemic when face-to-face meetings were often impossible.
The voluntary step by Deutsche Bank’s executives was first discussed after JPMorgan Chase in December agreed to pay $200mn to US authorities for failing to keep records of staff communications on personal devices. The fines were seen as a warning shot to banks to tighten up controls and document preservation.
The FT reported this month that Credit Suisse had removed a prominent investment banker from his role after he was found to have used unapproved messaging apps with clients. HSBC, meanwhile, fired a currency trader after an internal probe found that they had misused a messaging application to communicate with a broker.
However, the costs that Sewing and the bank’s upper echelons have offered to bear are far smaller. The €75,000 the Deutsche Bank chief is relinquishing amounts to 1.4 per cent of the €5.2mn bonus, which was part of a total pay award of €8.8mn.
Among the executives, Rebecca Short, the bank’s chief transformation officer, is taking the largest hit by giving up 3 per cent of her bonus.
The move by the executive board is not related to the misuse of messaging applications by the individuals, according to a person familiar with the matter, but is designed send a “signal” to the supervisory board.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment.