How a German Banker’s Milan Holiday Led to Arrest, U.K. Trial
Andreas Hauschild’s Italian holiday lasted a lot longer than he expected.
The quick trip to Milan nearly ended in disaster when Italian police swooped on the former Deutsche Bank AG executive, arresting him at a hotel where he was staying with his wife last year. Hotel staff had taken his passport details, triggering an alert that there was an extradition warrant from the U.K. where he was wanted on charges from 2015 that he conspired with other traders to fix a key benchmark rate.
Until then, the executive had been living safely in Germany, which had refused the British extradition request. In the end though, his Italian trip may have worked out for the best: he was acquitted by a London jury Thursday.
“I have always maintained my innocence of the charge against me and I am very pleased that today’s decision has vindicated my position,” the 54-year-old said in a statement. “The last several years have been very difficult for me.”
The former executive had been able to avoid trial in the U.K. for years, even as nine other bankers were convicted in prosecutors’ sweeping probe into manipulation of the euro interbank offered rate, a benchmark tied to trillions of dollars worth of mortgages and loans. Germany had rejected an extradition request from the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, ruling that the alleged crimes had taken place too long ago to be tried.
Hauschild was always planning to return to the U.K. because he’d “had enough of the European Arrest Warrant,” an agreement that enables the transfer of suspected criminals between member states -- and which forced him to remain in Germany, his lawyer Ian Ryan said.
“He was actually going to come voluntarily back, but it was taken out of his hands” when he was arrested in Italy, Ryan said.
After his arrest at the Italian hotel, where he was staying with his wife, Hauschild was sent to the notorious San Vittore prison, according to a person familiar with the matter. The facility in the Italian financial hub’s city center dates back to 1879. When Nazis occupied Italy during World War II it was used to detain resistance fighters and to hold Jews before they were sent to Auschwitz, John Foot, a professor at the University of Bristol who’s published a paper on the jail, said. Today it’s “pretty grim” and crowded, he said.
Hauschild, who worked at Deutsche Bank for 16 years, initially fought the U.K. extradition request, but gave up after several weeks and an adverse ruling from a Milan judge. When he arrived in the U.K. he was held in London’s Wandsworth prison until he got bail and was able to move to a rented apartment in Bermondsey, south-east London, Ryan said.
During a three-week trial that started last month, Hauschild was accused by prosecutors of conspiring with convicted trader Christian Bittar to fix the Euribor rate.
He "ruled the roost" from his desk in Frankfurt where he managed the cash position for the bank, prosecutors at the SFO said. While Hauschild never directly set the rates, prosecutors alleged the managing director used the submissions to help his team and his own trading positions.
Hauschild’s defense involved distancing himself from the actions of three colleagues, Joerg Vogt, Ardalan Gharagozlou and Kai-Uwe Kappauf. During his trial, he said he’d seen information from prosecutors that indicated the three were able to decide whether to accommodate requests for particular rates from Bittar, a former Deutsche Bank trader. He himself didn’t act on Bittar’s requests, he said.
When the prosecution lawyer James Waddington said the three men were “behaving dishonestly in relation to Euribor submissions,” Hauschild replied, “Yes.” Later, when Waddington asked whether he thought the three had “got you into a lot of trouble,” he said “Yes.”
While Hauschild’s trip to Italy cost him “a lot of money that he’s not going to get back,” as well as time spent in custody, it had at least one advantage, said John Milner, an attorney at IBB Solicitors who isn’t involved with the case.
“He has the freedom to travel the globe now, which he wouldn’t have had before.”
Now, Hauschild is planning to return to Germany to do charity work, Ryan said. He has no plans to go back into banking, but wants to “use his financial skills and ability in a different way.”
But first, Ryan said, he wants a holiday.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.