Nizar Al-Bassam Sues Deutsche Bank Over $4.7 Million Bonus

(Bloomberg) -- A former Deutsche Bank AG executive, Nizar Al-Bassam, is suing the German lender to reclaim bonuses totaling about 4 million euros ($4.7 million) following a probe into hiring practices in Russia and the U.K.

Al-Bassam, a former head of corporate and debt capital market finance for central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said he believed the bank withheld the deferred compensation after investigating his involvement in hiring practices in Russia.

“The allegation of misconduct for which the suspension was applied has long-since been abandoned,” Al-Bassam, said in a court filing dated April 26, and released Monday.

Al-Bassam was part of a wave of senior Deutsche Bank officials to leave soon after John Cryan became co-chief executive officer in 2015. Colin Fan, the former co-head of its investment banking unit, settled a suit for about $6 million, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

Al-Bassam left Deutsche Bank after 17 years, and joined ex-colleagues Michele Faissola and Dalinc Ariburnu to create the London-based buyout fund F.A.B. Partners LP, which has since been rebranded as Centricus. Al-Bassam also now serves as an adviser to the Softbank Vision fund.

The bank repeatedly made allegations against Al-Bassam only to drop them for different ones, according to his lawyers. At this point, Deutsche Bank only has concerns about Al-Bassam’s involvement in one of the Russian hires.

“Throughout the process, the actions of Deutsche Bank have been well below the most basic requirements of procedural independence, fairness, objectivity, transparency and regulatory compliance,” his lawyer Richard East said in a statement Monday.

Rupert Trefgarne, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank in London, declined to comment.

Russian Posts

Al-Bassam said he learned that the bonus forfeiture was related to four new employees in the U.K. and Russia. The bank said his approval of those posts may have breached its bribery and corruption policy as well conflict-of-interest guidelines, according to the court filing. He was interviewed by Deutsche Bank executives about the positions.

The 2010 recruitment of Alexey Storchak, the son of a deputy minister in the Russian Ministry of Finance, was one of the cases probed, according to the filing. A 2009 hire, Elena Arkhangelskaya, whose father was also a deputy minister in the finance ministry at the time, was also discussed in interviews, according to the filing.

Storchak, who is still at Deutsche Bank in London, works with clients across the former Soviet Union to raise funds through “debt/hybrid capital markets transactions,” according to his profile on LinkedIn. He previously worked at Credit Suisse Group AG and was ‘‘deputy head’’ of the ‘‘foreign assets division’’ at the Russian finance ministry until 2007, the profile shows.

Arkhangelskaya, a vice president also based in the U.K. capital, works on similar deals for customers from the same region, her LinkedIn profile shows.

Storchak didn’t respond to requests for comment. Arkhangelskaya referred a request for comment to Trefgarne, the Deutsche Bank spokesman, who declined to comment on both of their behalves.

The bank also looked into business development consultants’ use in the Middle East, and Al-Bassam said he was also interviewed as part of that review. He said the law firm looking into those hirings also found in his favor in that instance.

The case is Al-Bassam v. Deutsche Bank, High Court of Justice, CL-2018-000278

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