MUNICH (Reuters) - Munich prosecutors requested that 30 additional witnesses including Rupert Murdoch, publisher Friede Springer and Axel Springer SPRGn.DE Chief Executive Mathias Doepfner be summoned in a trial against Deutsche Bank DBKGn.DE executives.
Munich prosecutors are pursuing criminal allegations against current and former Deutsche Bank executives in the wake of a civil suit brought by the heirs of deceased media magnate Leo Kirch.
Prosecutors have accused the executives of misleading the court about the bank’s role in connection with the collapse of the Kirch media empire in 2002.
They want to establish whether Deutsche Bank sought a mandate to restructure and sell parts of the Kirch empire and now want to question executives at rival media companies, prosecutors said on Friday.
Axel Springer declined to comment.
Defense lawyers have until Sept. 22 to respond to the request, after which the court will decide whether to summon the additional witnesses.
Leo Kirch, who died in 2011, blamed former Deutsche Bank chairman Rolf Breuer for triggering his group’s downfall by questioning its creditworthiness in a 2002 television interview. Deutsche Bank and former board members deny wrongdoing.
The accusation set off one of Germany’s most acrimonious corporate disputes. Deutsche Bank settled a civil suit in February 2014 in a deal costing about 925 million euros ($1.04 billion).
Reporting by Irene Preisinger; Additional reporting by Klaus Lauer in Berlin; Writing by Edward Taylor; Editing by Georgina Prodhan