Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank (DB), is caught in a spying scandal. What makes the story even more fascinating is the fact that the bank didn’t just spy on its board members, it also snooped on the personal life of a troublesome shareholder, according to a report by a german newpaper.
Like Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Bahn, which have also been hit by internal snooping scandals, it seems that Deutsche Bank also succumbed to a mixture of paranoia and megalomania.
In 2006 [Deutsche Bank’s].. internal security department received the delicate order to check contacts between board members and Munich-based media magnate Leo Kirch and his associates.
External detective agency Bühner Private Risk Advisors was commissioned with the task. But the head of the agency, Bernd Bühner, denies this. He said he was at no point ordered to spy on Deutsche Bank management or supervisory board members.
The operation was in response to legal action brought by Kirch, who blamed former Deutsche Bank CEO Rolf Breuer for the collapse of his company. Kirch’s lawyers had managed to obtain sensitive information from within Deutsche Bank’s management.
The bank also had external helpers investigate a shareholder believed to have links with Kirch — Michael Bohndorf, a lawyer who resides on the island of Ibiza. The investigators compiled detailed reports on his movements and even looked into whether he had any personal weaknesses: alcohol, gambling, women? One insider reports that the agency resorted to hiring women to test him.
Snooping scandals at major German firms prompted the government in February to pledge a new privacy-protection law for workers.