How Goldman's German Chief Outsmarted Himself And Became The Laughingstock Of Berlin

Alexander Dibelius


Goldman Sachs (GS) seems to be in an unending spiral of German bad news.First it had to do with the firm’s role in disguising Greek debt.

Then it was revealed that German bank IKB was on the other side of the controversial Paulson-Abacus deal.

And then there’s this bizarre story, about its top German banker Alexander Dibelius, and a misguided attempt to get concessions from the city of Berlin.

Der Spiegel has the whole story, but it basically goes like this.

  • Germany helps Cerberus acquire 66,000 Berlin apartments under the condition that the new company can’t go public in 2014 unless the city gives its approval.
  • Dibelius is urgent, and demands the city let the apartment go public.
  • The city demands $30 million for agreeing to the early IPO..
  • Dibelius then gets a lawyer to draft up an absurd proposition, claiming that by demanding $30 million, the city’s finance minister was requesting a bribe.
  • Then when teh city’s finance minister brushes off that legal claim, Dibelius finds himself in the awkward position of bribing a city official if he relents and pays the $30 million.
  • So he gets other legal opinions saying the $30 million request is OK, and ultimately it’s paid.

In the end, not a huge deal. The story just makes Dibelius look like a bully, and everyone in Berlin is having a nice laugh at his expense. And of course, due to Goldman envy, it’s always nice when one of their own gets in trouble for being too clever and aggressive.

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