DWS pays record salaries despite green washing allegations

DWS CEO Asoka Wöhrmann

The DWS boss came under massive pressure last spring.

(Photo: Reuters)

Frankfurt If you only look at the salaries and the numbers, everything seems fine at DWS: CEO Asoka Wöhrmann alone received total remuneration of almost seven million euros for the past year – around 15 percent more than for 2020. His bonus accounts for almost two thirds assuming.

The five managing directors received a total of almost 11.8 million euros in bonuses. That is a good half of their salary, which has increased by almost a quarter compared to the previous year. The fund subsidiary of Deutsche Bank has not paid its management board and employees that much since the IPO in 2018, even though several supervisory authorities are investigating whether DWS has not systematically exaggerated its commitment to sustainable investments.

Despite the allegations, which the company has repeatedly rejected, the business of the largest German fund provider for private investors went very well in 2021. Fueled above all by the massive rise in the stock markets, DWS collected 48 billion euros net, more than ever before. Assets under management climbed to a high of 880 billion euros.

The fund house also set records for adjusted pre-tax profit, which rose by 43 percent to 1.14 billion euros. Thanks to an increase in income by a fifth to 2.72 billion euros, the consolidated result rose to 782 million euros.

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However, there has been a threat to Wöhrmann from other quarters for some time: the DWS boss came under massive pressure last spring. His former head of sustainability, Desiree Fixler, has accused DWS of greenwashing the disclosure of sustainably managed client assets since her dismissal around a year ago.

In addition, Wöhrmann has to defend himself against allegations that he used private email and Whatsapp accounts for professional purposes. Not only Deutsche Bank is examining these issues, but also the German and US securities regulators and the US Department of Justice.

DWS boss: “Accusations are aimed at harming us”

DWS rejects the allegations. Wöhrmann sees behind the attacks a targeted campaign against him and the company. When presenting the business figures at the end of January, the DWS boss said: “I reject all allegations and attacks. Their sole aim is to harm us. I will not be intimidated and prevented from doing my job for the benefit of our customers and shareholders.”

According to the annual report, DWS made provisions for legal risks last year of just one million euros, but not for matters relating to sustainability (ESG). According to the annual report, the group has received requests for information on certain ESG-related matters from various supervisory and law enforcement authorities. The group continues to provide the investigating authorities with information and also cooperates with the authorities in other ways.

“These investigations are ongoing and the outcome is yet to be determined and therefore a reliable estimate cannot be made,” it said. For this reason, the Group has not formed any provisions or contingent liabilities at this point in time.

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