Dhe ten board members of Deutsche Bank have offered to have their bonus reduced by 75,000 euros. They are reacting to the fact that the bank supervisors have criticized the handling of chats on company cell phones in messenger services such as WhatsApp in the Deutsche Bank Group.
For Deutsche Bank boss Christian Sewing, who made the headlines himself because of the use of WhatsApp, the waiver is manageable: his salary rose by 20 percent last year to 8.8 million euros. In 2021, the entire board earned around 66.5 million euros in basic salary and bonuses distributed among eleven people because there had been a change in personnel over the course of the year.
As a bank expert emphasizes to the FAZ, the board of directors is not admitting any individual misconduct with the offer of a salary waiver on bonuses that are ready to be paid from 2023. Rather, the salary waiver should be understood as a signal that the members of the Management Board are taking responsibility for a “cultural misdevelopment” at Deutsche Bank and thus for employees’ lax use of their company cell phones. A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment. The British newspaper “Financial Times” was the first to report.
America’s overseers are becoming stricter
Apparently, American bank supervisors are a thorn in their side that chats via WhatsApp cannot be kept and stored for years as requested. That’s why Deutsche Bank introduced an alternative messenger service called Symphony a few years ago for its employees’ work cell phones. Since the American supervisors in particular have recently become even stricter towards all major banks, a new messenger app called Movius is currently being implemented at Deutsche Bank on the devices of 1,750 employees with customer contact in the USA. Deutsche Bank also warned its employees that they should not delete business-related messages on their private smartphones either.
Deutsche Bank is not alone in having difficulties: other large banks such as Goldman Sachs Group and HSBC have also been subjected to more stringent scrutiny by American supervisors because of the way their employees communicate. HSBC fired a securities trader in London after the bank discovered problematic messages following an investigation into mobile phone chats.
At Deutsche Bank, however, it is noticeable that even members of the Management Board do not consistently use only the communication channels accepted by the supervisory authority. The Bloomberg agency reported that even CEO Christian Sewing himself allegedly used WhatsApp for company-related communication in the past. Bloomberg cited Sewing’s chats with German businessman Daniel Wruck, whose role in dealings with Deutsche Bank and its fund company DWS was indeed under investigation by German authorities. According to information from the FAZ, no business-related information was exchanged during communication between Sewing and Wruck via WhatsApp.