Any hopes Deutsche Börse had of a quick resolution after last month’s settlement of a trading probe were summarily crushed as Frankfurt prosecutors expanded an ongoing investigation. Initially, an investigation was looking into Deutsche Börse CEO Carsten Kengeter’s role in share purchases, however the probe has now expanded to all leading management.
Originally launched back in February 2017 by German prosecutors, the probe focused on Mr. Kengeter, alleging insider trading of company stock. The timing of share purchases had been suspect given its proximity to the ultimately doomed bid and merger with the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
For his part, Mr. Kengeter has towed the same line since the investigation was first brought to light, firmly shooting down any such allegations. Over the past few months he has on multiple occasions reiterated that any insider charges against him would prove totally unfounded and that he had no role in dictating the timing of his share purchases with the announced merger plans with the LSE.
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Last month’s settlement gave little credence to his stance – allegations had extended back to a 2015 purchase of over $4.85 million of Deutsche Börse shares at the onset of merger talks with the LSE. While Deutsche Börse was hit with a $12.3 million (€10.5 million fine), Mr. Kengeter was not cleared of all wrongdoing with the investigation left still open and ongoing.
Reliability of management being questioned
Fast-forwarding to the present, German investigators are now examining not just Mr. Kengeter but all of the group’s management, according to an FT report. In particular, domestic authorities are opening up a broader investigation into the ‘reliability’ of Deutsche Börse’s currently installed management in running the exchange.
The timing of the expanded probe is noteworthy given that Mr. Kengeter’s contract is up for renewal in March 2018. Any lingering uncertainty, or worse, expanded charges could complicate the decision to keep him on. However, Deutsche Börse chairman Joachim Faber has already stated he wants to keep Mr. Kengeter in his current role.
Deutsche Börse is hoping for a quick and speedy resolution, as it looks into a potential expansion of a euro interest rate swaps clearing business.