DWS CEO Steps Down After Greenwashing-Related Police Raid
Deutsche Bank’s investment arm DWS, one of the largest asset managers in Europe, announced today the resignation of its CEO Asoka Woehrmann, a day after police raided the Frankfurt offices of DWS and Deutsche Bank as part of an investigation into greenwashing allegations at the firm.
Woehrmann, who has served as CEO since 2018, will step down after the DWS annual meeting on June 9. In an internal memo to staff, the outgoing CEO said that the allegations “have left a mark,” and become a “burden for the firm,” according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The search by German authorities of Deutsche Bank’s and DWS’ offices yesterday had been triggered by media reports that DWS overstated the green or sustainability-related aspects of financial products, and following examination of evidence leading to suspicion of “prospectus fraud,” according to the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office.
The raid followed reports of investigations last year by the US’ SEC and Germany’s federal financial supervisory authority BaFin after claims that the trillion dollar asset manager has misled investors on its use of ESG considerations in its investment practices and its ESG investing capabilities. In August 2021, DWS’ former sustainability chief Desiree Fixler, alleged that the firm misrepresented in its annual report on the extent to which assets were invested using ESG integration in the investment process.
Fixler was hired by DWS in 2020 and appointed Group Sustainability Officer, a new role the asset manager created to ensure that it had a holistic ESG strategy that is consistent across regions, and aligned with the group’s responsibilities both as a fiduciary and as a corporate. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Fixler was fired in March, immediately prior to the release of DWS’ annual report.
Deutsche Bank announced that Stefan Hoops will take on the CEO role following Woehrmann’s resignation. Hoops has been serving as Head of Deutsche Bank’s Corporate Bank since 2019.