Possible Metro insider dealing investigated by German prosecutors

On 10 November 2017, Metro announced that German prosecutors had begun investigating the firm's supervisory board chairman, a senior executive and three other individuals from the company. The investigation centres around information that may have been used prior to an official announcement by Metro to separate its wholsesale food business from its consumer electronics chain. Following the announcement, shares for the company rose by 12 percent. The investigation follows allegations that individuals were acquiring shares in Metro or forwarding insider information, prior to the announcement.

A regulatory filing shows that supervisory board Chairman Juergen Steinemann bought 43,000 Metro shares on 22 February 2016, worth a little more than $1.16 million at the time. Chief Operating Officer Pieter Boone bought 2,175 shares on 26 February 2016, both ahead of the announcement which was made in March.

Prosecutors have stated that there are reasons to believe that the March 2016 announcement on the demerger should have been made earlier, adding that a deliberate delay may have significantly impacted share prices. Prosecutors have also confirmed that a raid was conducted on Monday 6th November and that data and evidence had been seized and is now being evaluated.

"Paradise Papers" raise pressure on tax havens – Germany

Last year the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung received 1.4 terabytes of leaked data that has come to be known as the "Paradise Papers", containing information that has been used to support allegations that certain wealthy individuals and companies have used offshore vehicles to make their fortunes untraceable and avoid taxes. In coordination with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 381 journalists in 67 countries worked with the leaked information, much of which originated at the Bermuda law firm Appleby. Germany has generally welcomed the latest revelations regarding the "Paradise Papers" as an important contribution to creating transparency and fighting tax avoidance at an international level.

Court in Frankfurt blocks Deutsche Börse insider trading settlement, but prosecutors do not have enough evidence to charge former CEO Kengeter

Criminal prosecutors in Frankfurt have announced they are continuing their investigation into potential insider trading by former Deutsche Börse CEO Carsten Kengeter and the alleged failure to disclose market-sensitive information in connection with the firm's announced merger with the London Stock Exchange early 2016, which was later blocked by the European Commission. Mr Kengeter had purchased 60,000 Deutsche Börse shares worth approximately €4.5 million in December 2015. The public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt is investigating whether shares were bought while the German company was already in secret deal talks with the London Stock Exchange.  While Deutsche Börse had agreed to pay €10.5 million in fines to settle the investigation against itself, prosecutors had also been willing to drop the separate criminal proceedings against Mr Kengeter for €500,000. However, on 23 October 2017, a court in Frankfurt refused to approve the settlement to close the investigation into alleged insider trading. This follows Germany’s stock market supervisor BaFin's previous criticism of the €500,000 payment as too low and pointed to the large public interest in the case.  Criminal prosecutors in Frankfurt have announced that they currently do not hold enough evidence to charge Kengeter as the threshold of "sufficient suspicion" has not been met. For this reason, the investigation continues whilst Kengeter has  stepped down as Deutsche Börse's CEO.

Former Bertling employees sentenced in Angola bribery case

On 20 October 2017, UK's Serious Fraud Office ("SFO") announced that three former senior employees of German logistics and freight company Bertling were sentenced by a London court for bribing an agent of Sonangol, the Angolan state oil group, in connection with a contract worth approximately $20 million. Jörg Blumberg, Dirk Juergensen and Marc Schweiger were sentenced, fined and disqualified as company directors following their convictions for conspiracy to make corrupt payments earlier this year. Marc Schweiger, a German national living in Uganda, was the manager responsible for the Africa market when corrupt activity took place between July 2005 and December 2006. Jörg Blumberg worked as Group CFO while Dirk Juergensen was the Managing Director of the UK subsidiary F.H. Bertling Ltd. Both are German nationals living in Germany.