Andrea Fuchs, 48, is currently contesting her ex-employer, a large German bank, in her 19th labour court proceeding (in words: nineteenth). It’s all over for her ex-bosses, two so-called top bankers. Their “last resort” was that the public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt was not keen on an investigation (“due to lack of public interest”) and spared the two bankers from criminal proceedings in return for payments of fines of almost 18,000 and 9,000 Euro. It was a matter of insider dealing, as stated matter-of-factly by the “Handelsblatt”, Germany’s leading business and financial newspaper. And it was also a matter of (a great deal of) money:
1996/97: Equity stakes to the value of approximately 200 million Euro at the Aachener-Münchner-Beteiligungs AG (AMB) insurance group are to change hands. To ensure that nobody is in a position to benefit unfairly from insider information, Andrea Fuchs, a successful dealer in securities at the major bank, and consequently also gra.ted power of attorney, is commissioned to professionally handle this sale: Neither the AMB nor its competitors are to find out about this deal. However, Andrea Fuchs has no choice but tobring top managers at her bank into the loop due to the dimension of the sale, e.g. the chief representative for securities, who in turn informs the responsible executive board member of the bank. And these two top managers do precisely that, which is in breach of the Securities Act. And what their customer certainly does not want: They inform the AMB. And the AMB in turn informs the other major shareholders. In no time at all, word of the deal spreads, at which point the potential seller in the USA also becomes angry. Result: The planned deal is off. The bank loses commission valued at millions.
The two bankers however also inform Andrea Fuchs that they acted not as they should have, which then results in a dispute – the bank needs to find a party to blame for the fact that everything turned out differently to what the client had planned: Andrea Fuchs.
Initially only a few of the proceedings find in Andrea Fuchs’ favour. Also, the strangest rumours are suddenly circulating in the banking sector: Andrea is supposed to have had a sexual relationship with the originator of the securities deal; the deal was apparently only a figment of her imagination so as to reap considerable bonuses; she apparently did not inform her superiors in full about the pending deal; she is a “liar”. And so on.
The dismissed dealer in securities knows that she will never be able to find a job in the banking sector again. Wherever she goes, she is greeted with suspicion. All of the banks she approaches for a position have already received mail from her previous employer – a precautionary measure: copies of some of the labour court decisions in which the bank was able to stand its ground, as well as the harsh written pleadings by the bank to the courts.
Slowly but surely the truth starts to emerge, however. The regulator responsible for insider deals, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesaufsichtsamt für Finanzdienstleistungen – BAFin), clearly states in an investigative report that the two top bankers should never have passed on the information.
This does not help Andrea Fuchs. She is not informed about any of this. In all further labour court proceedings, and against its better judgement, the bank continues to state that Andrea is in the wrong and consequently had to be dismissed. The fact, too, that the prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt/Main imposed punitive damages on the two bank managers on the grounds of distinct misconduct pursuant to Article 153 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is not mentioned by the bank. Andrea is in no position to find out: she has no access to the files.
Only later does she find out. From the USA. The American Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), who got wind of the whole thing and who acts on behalf of the original equity seller, requests the files from Germany. Now Andrea also finds out. The German judges however show no interest in this and initially find in favour of the bank. Only from 2004 do Andrea’s cards start to turn: A retrial that she has to laboriously fight for exposes more than mere formal errors. Andrea is able to have all previous 18 earlier proceedings overturned a posteriori.
After raising the alarm within the bank in the first instance, and subsequently not achieving true resolution through criminal complaint, and in fact being the disadvantaged party throughout this period, Andrea Fuchs decided in 2004 to inform the public about the illegal practices. Her book “Die Judasbank” (The Judas Bank) contains everything in detail. The result: 2 additional dismissals, which, to date, have not been decided.
Foto: (c) Petrov Ahner – Text: (c) Johannes Ludwig – WBNW e.V.
Whistleblowing – Licht ins Dunkel bringen! – Ein Ausstellungsprojekt von Whistleblower-Netzwerk