Attack on CEO Ackermann: Deutsche Bank Package Carried 'Functional Bomb'

Mailroom workers at the Frankfurt headquarters of Deutsche Bank discovered an envelope Thursday containing a bomb addressed to its controversial CEO, Josef Ackermann. While police search for clues, some Ackermann critics have condemned the attempted attack.

A mail bomb addressed to Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann was intercepted at company headquarters in Frankfurt on Thursday. Zoom
REUTERS

A mail bomb addressed to Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann was intercepted at company headquarters in Frankfurt on Thursday.

The suspicious package intercepted in the Deutsche Bank mailroom on Wednesday following a routine X-ray screening was addressed to bank CEO Josef Ackermann. And on Thursday, German authorities announced that the envelope contained a "functional letter bomb." Inside was flammable powder and shrapnel that could have exploded if not intercepted.

"This was not a military or commercial explosive," said a police spokesman. But it could "certainly have been dangerous" were the letter opened. He said it could have caused burns on the hands, face and upper body. On Thursday, police were still investigating the powder amount and type, whether it was self-produced, from a firecracker or came from some other source.

Thursday afternoon, German investigators told reporters they obtained a letter from an Italian group calling itself the Informal Anarchist Federation, claiming responsibility for the letter bomb. The letter speaks of "three explosions against banks, bankers, fleas and bloodsuckers,"according to Frankfurt prosecutors and the Criminal Investigations Office for the state of Hesse.

Deutsche Bank spokesman Klaus Winker said the bank alerted police immediately after the package came to the attention of mailroom workers during the screening. "Specialists from the Hesse (state) Criminal Office working together with Frankfurt police successfully deactivated the bomb," said prosecutors and police in a joint statement.

Police officials initially said the return address on the letter was the European Central Bank, which has its headquarters just across the park from Deutsche Bank in downtown Frankfurt. But the Hesse Criminal Office has since retracted that version.

FBI Involved in Investigation

After the bomb discovery, police in New York City stepped up security at Deutsche Bank's headquarters there at 60 Wall Street. The NYPD also cautioned 10,000 members of its Shield group, comprised of private security managers for companies in New York, to watch for any other questionable packages and letters according to the New York Times.

"The F.B.I.'s Joint Terrorist Task Force is working with German authorities to assess the incident in Frankfurt and any potential threat to facilities or people here," said James Margolin, a spokesman fort he Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York.

The 63-year-old, Swiss-born Ackermann is one of the most controversial managers in Germany. While the German bank has shown relative success during his 10-year run as chief, he has often faced harsh criticism for focusing on investment banking and neglecting the home market. He also became associated with Wall Street-style bonuses, shareholder-driven management style and was one of the highest paid CEOs in Germany, earning €9 million in 2010. In May next year, Ackermann will resign his role at Deutsche Bank after an unsuccessful bid to become board chairman.

The Occupy protest movement distanced itself from the attempted attack on Ackermann. "We condemn any actions that have anything to do with violence," said Frank Stegmaier fromOccupy Frankfurt. "Occupy has other options of protest." Since Oct. 15, the Occupy movement has set up a protest camp in front of the European Central Bank. In Hamburg, Occupy activists recently disturbed a lecture by Ackermann, insulting the bank manager as "unconscionable."

pdg -- with wire reports

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