New allegations against DWS boss Asoka Wöhrmann

DWS boss Asoka Wöhrmann

The matter could become a serious problem for the DWS boss.

(Photo: Bert Bostelmann for Handelsblatt)

Frankfurt The business relationship with the start-up Auto1 has probably often given Deutsche Bank headaches: the bank withdrew from its stake in the financing subsidiary Auto1 Fintech at the end of 2020 – at a loss, as was heard from insiders at the time.

But that’s not all: E-mails that were sent between some of the participants in 2017 and 2018 could now be dangerous for the CEO of the fund subsidiary DWS, Asoka Wöhrmann.

At that time, Wöhrmann was still head of private customers at Deutsche Bank. “In his position at the time, he moderated the discussions between those involved in Auto1 Fintech and always represented the interests of Deutsche Bank at all times,” said a DWS spokesman.

The problem: Some of the e-mails related to the Auto1 negotiations were sent to a private e-mail address of Wöhrmann’s – and he also sent individual e-mails from his private address.

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Depending on how extensive this correspondence was, it could become a serious problem for the DWS boss. Because when the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported on the matter for the first time last July, there was still talk of a few e-mails. That in itself was a violation of the bank’s code of conduct and led to the bank looking into the issue – without serious consequences it seems.

Exchange should be more extensive than previously known

But now the “Financial Times” reports that the communication, which regularly went to Wöhrmann’s private account, was much more extensive. According to an anonymous source for the newspaper, “at least 50, if not 100” messages were sent to Woehrmann’s private email address, including confidential information such as the business plan or possible terms of a deal. Wöhrmann is also said to have shared “his views” with the group from his home address.

As a result of the British newspaper’s allegations, Deutsche Bank has now expanded the investigation into Wöhrmann’s correspondence, as several people familiar with the matter told the Handelsblatt. A spokesman for the bank only said on request: “If and to the extent that there are indications of possible misconduct, we will investigate it.”

If the allegations are confirmed, it would also be unpleasant for the bank: You would then have to ask yourself whether you didn’t deal with a violation of the rules early enough and thoroughly enough.

A DWS spokesman sharply denied Wöhrmann’s possible misconduct. “Asoka Woehrmann firmly rejects allegations related to his time as head of German retail banking at Deutsche Bank,” he wrote in a statement.

He senses a campaign: “Since last summer, Asoka Wöhrmann has been the target of selective, misleading leaks with the sole purpose of badmouthing him. In addition, he was even the target of threatening letters. It’s time for this malicious campaign to stop while Mr. Woehrmann remains focused on the success of DWS after a record-breaking 2021,” he wrote.

More: DWS surprises analysts with strong earnings outlook

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