This made the court at the start of the spectacular civil case against their former house bank sal. Oppenheim clear on tuesday. Schickedanz accuses the former management of the once great european private bank of riskily investing and squandering its billion euro assets against its will. She is demanding 1.9 billion euros from the bank, the ex-bank ceos who have since resigned, and her asset advisor josef esch. Her action for damages is directed against a total of 14 defendants.
However, presiding judge stefan singbartl said it was "hardly plausible" that schickedanz had always been against the investment decisions of her advisers on the one hand, but had never made this clear on the other hand. "So far, we are not yet convinced by the presentation," said singbartl. Schickedanz – who did not appear in court herself – had acquired a stake in the arcandor trading group, formerly karstadtquelle, in rough style and had also used loans from sal. Oppenheim repeatedly put money into the company. In 2009, the group collapsed – the 69-year-old lost practically all her assets.
"Mrs. Schickedanz did what she was told to do," her lawyer stefan homann told the court. Sal. Oppenheim had failed to make clear to her the risks of the chosen forms of investment. Judge singbartl reacted to this with astonishment. The principles of buying shares must have been clear to a major investor like ms. Schickedanz, he said. Moreover, after the arcandor insolvency, she herself had said that she saw it as her personal duty – and not as a "straw woman" for the banks. Schickedanz must be aware that the burden of proof lies with her as the plaintiff. So far, your comments have remained quite general.
The defendant’s attorneys commented only briefly after the court’s clear statements. "The plaintiff had all the information she needed to have," said one of the defendant’s lawyers. The schickedanz lawsuit should be dismissed.
Despite the eagerly awaited start of the trial, both sides are continuing their efforts to reach an amicable settlement of the billion-euro dispute. The lawyers involved confirmed that talks are still underway. It is conceivable that these discussions will be intensified now that it has already become clear in the meeting what the court thinks about the case.
Despite the clear words of the presiding judge, a verdict in the case is still a long way off. Schickedanz’s lawyers have now been given until 31 december. March 2013 time to respond to counterclaims from the other side. Some of the 14 defendants have sued schickedanz in reverse for a total of nearly half a billion euros. Then the court decides on 4. June, whether there will be witnesses in the case. The opening meeting lasted only three quarters of an hour (ref: 21 O164/12).
Sal. Oppenheim was itself plunged into an existential crisis as a result of the disastrous arcandor business and was taken over by deutsche bank in 2010. The management of what was once europe’s biggest private bank has been completely replaced. The old management team will have to stand trial at the beginning of next year on charges of particularly serious breach of trust. This case is also before the regional court in colonia, but is independent of the civil action brought by madeleine schickedanz. An end to the arcandor insolvency proceedings is currently not in sight.