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German police raid Deutsche Bank and DWS offices over greenwashing accusations

BaFin and Frankfurt prosecutor's office involved in operation against 'previously unknown employees and managers' at DWS.

The Frankfurt offices of Deutsche Bank and DWS have been raided today (31 May) by police in connection to greenwashing allegations against the German asset manager.

The Frankfurt public prosecutors’ office confirmed in a statement that approximately 50 people across its own department, the federal criminal police office and Germany’s financial supervisory authority (BaFin) are involved in the operations that are aimed at “previously unknown employees and managers at DWS”.

The German asset manager DWS is around 80 percent owned by Deutsche Bank.

A spokesperson for DWS told Responsible Investor: “We have continuously cooperated fully with all relevant regulators and authorities on this matter and will continue to do so. In general, we remain to stand fully behind our company statement from 26 August 2021.”

In that statement, DWS disputed allegations made by former chief sustainability officer and whistleblower Desiree Fixler, who claimed the asset manager had made misleading statements over its ESG-integrated investments.

BaFin launched an investigation after Fixler had first contacted the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI regarding her concerns.

Following Fixler’s complaint, DWS reduced the amount of assets linked to ESG in its annual report.

In a statement today, the prosecutors’ office said: “After examination, there were sufficient factual indications that, contrary to the information in the sales prospectuses of DWS funds, ESG factors were actually only taken into account in a minority of the investments, but were not taken into account in a large number of investments (‘prospectus fraud’).”

It said it would decline to comment further in order not to jeopardise the investigation.

Deutsche Bank confirmed to RI that the measures of the public prosecutors are directed against unknown people in connection with greenwashing allegations against DWS and repeated DWS’s earlier response. BaFin declined to comment.

In April, Deutsche Bank’s headquarters were also raided in connection with separate allegations that employees may have violated anti-money laundering laws.