Prosecutors to appeal against Mannesmann verdict

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The Independent Online

State prosecutors announced yesterday that they would appeal against the verdicts in Germany's controversial Mannesmann trial, after the Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann and five other executives were cleared on Thursday of corruption during the company's 2000 merger with Vodafone.

State prosecutors announced yesterday that they would appeal against the verdicts in Germany's controversial Mannesmann trial, after the Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann and five other executives were cleared on Thursday of corruption during the company's 2000 merger with Vodafone.

A spokesman for the Düsseldorf state prosecutor said the verdicts would be challenged at Germany's Federal Court of Justice, the highest court in the country, in a legal process that could take months if not years to complete.

The announcement came only a day after Mr Ackermann, the Mannesmann chief executive Klaus Esser and four other company board members were acquitted of charges that they illegally overpaid company executives with $74m (£40m) in bonuses for agreeing to the merger with Vodafone.

The verdicts provoked angry condemnation from senior German government figures who described the actions of the Mannesmann executives as "scandalous" and "indecent". However the judge trying the accused rejected the prosecution's arguments, saying that it was not in a criminal court's remit to judge breaches of a civil code.

The decision by the state prosecutors to appeal against the verdicts is likely to be based on legal arguments over what constitutes "breach of trust" under German law. Legal experts said the definition was ill-defined and nebulous and the case could lead to protracted legal arguments as a result. They added that Federal Court judges had the right to reject the appeal before any trial was opened.

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