Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing told colleagues today that taking on sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as a client was "a critical mistake that never should have happened."
The corporate mea culpa followed an announcement by the New York State Department of Financial Services that the German bank agreed to pay a $150M penalty for lack of oversight in dealings with the now-deceased sex trafficker, as well as Danske Bank Estonia and Federal Bank of the Middle East.
DB worked with Epstein and related entities from August 2013 until December 2018, which is the year that Sewing became CEO.
The Financial Services Dept. found that DB "processed hundreds of transactions totaling millions of dollars that, at the very least, should have prompted additional scrutiny in light of Mr. Epstein’s history.”
Those transactions include payments to people alleged to be Epstein's co-conspirators in sexually abusing young women and Russian models for such things as women's school tuitions, hotel and rent expenses.
In his letter to colleagues, Sewing thanked them "for their determined handling of these cases and the internal investigations, which the DFS acknowledged as "exemplary."'
At the same time, he stressed: "We all have to help ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again. It is our duty and our social responsibility to ensure that our banking services are used only for legitimate purposes."
He urged staffers to examine things critically, ask questions and speak up. He also wants them to read the DFS consent order and the client Q&A " so that we are aware of our mistakes and learn the appropriate lessons from the past."
The DFS announcement follows this month's arrest of Epstein's girlfriend and alleged procurer of young women, Ghislaine Maxwell, on federal charges.