(Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has told Deutsche Bank that it may have violated a criminal settlement when it failed to tell prosecutors about an internal complaint in its asset-management arm's sustainable investing business, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The internal complaint alleged that DWS Group, Deutsche Bank's asset manager, overstated how much it used environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria to manage its assets, the report said.
Deutsche Bank had agreed in January to pay nearly $125 million to avoid U.S. prosecution on charges it engaged in foreign bribery schemes and manipulated precious metals markets.
At that time, the lender entered a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and a related civil settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, allowing it to avoid being indicted.
However, if the authorities were to conclude Deutsche Bank had breached the agreement and if they pursued the bank, it could lose its earlier deal and could also face indictment and prosecution, the Journal report said.
Officials in the United States could also ask the German bank to pay an additional fine, according to the report.
The DOJ and Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the Journal report.
In October, a DOJ official outlined policy changes aimed at rooting out repeated corporate misconduct, signaling the agency will take a tougher stance on white collar crime under Democratic President Joe Biden.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said that among other measures, the agency would review whether it was appropriate to enter into agreements to waive or defer prosecutions with companies that continue to break the law.
Between 10% and 20% of all significant corporate criminal resolutions involve repeat offenders, Monaco said, adding that the Justice Department had notified two companies, without naming them, that they were in breach of such agreements.
(Reporting by Shivani Tanna in Bengaluru and Michelle Price in Washington; Additional reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis)