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Deutsche Bank's DWS and allegations of 'greenwashing'

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FILE PHOTO: Deutsche Bank annual meeting in Frankfurt
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Asoka Woehrmann, the chief executive of Deutsche Bank's funds arm DWS, will hand over the reins on Thursday after resigning in the wake of allegations that the company, which manages 928 billion euros ($994 billion) in assets, misled investors about its "green" investments.

DWS and Woehrmann have denied the allegations.

Below is a timeline of developments in the saga drawn from DWS and Deutsche Bank corporate reports and public remarks, statements from prosecutors, and interviews.

2004

Deutsche Bank assumes full ownership of DWS.

2018

March - DWS shares debut after Deutsche Bank sells a minority stake in the division, part of an overhaul to help the bank move on from a string of lawsuits and trading scandals.

September - DWS publishes a report called "Responsible Investing", saying its sustainability record spans two decades.

October - Woehrmann is appointed CEO, having spent years at DWS and Deutsche Bank.

2020

May - DWS showcases its sustainable investment credentials, saying it will use artificial intelligence to identify companies with climate risks.

June - Desiree Fixler joins DWS as group sustainability officer, according to her LinkedIn profile. She would later allege to regulators, investigators and journalists that DWS misrepresented how green its investments were.

2021

March - DWS' supervisory board, headed by Deutsche Bank's Karl von Rohr, learns about Fixler's allegations and launches a review.

April - Fixler leaves DWS, according to her LinkedIn profile.

July - DWS' supervisory board finds no evidence to back up the allegations and decides not to pursue it further.

Aug. 26 - Media report the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating DWS over how it used sustainable investing criteria to manage its assets. Shares fall 13.6%. DWS firmly rejects the allegations. Germany's financial regulator BaFin is also investigating.

September-December - DWS' supervisory board creates a subcommittee to deal with the allegations.

November-December - Woehrmann receives threatening letters. Frankfurt police investigate.

2022

Mid-January - Prosecutors in Frankfurt begin an investigation into investor fraud.

Jan. 24 - DWS wins a wrongful dismissal lawsuit by Fixler.

Jan. 27 - Woehrmann tells analysts, "I emphatically reject all these allegations and insinuations." Deutsche Bank conducts an internal investigation into Woehrmann's possible private email usage for business purposes.

Jan. 28 - The European Central Bank is looking into corporate governance issues surrounding Woehrmann.

Feb. 28 - Deutsche Bank, which owns nearly 80% of DWS, agrees with the U.S. Department of Justice to extend the stay of a special monitor.

May 31 - Prosecutors, along with police and other officials, raid DWS and Deutsche Bank. Prosecutors said they are following up on news reports and the whistleblower's claims.

The prosecutors gather "sufficient factual evidence" that environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors "were not taken into account at all in a large number of investments", contrary to statements in DWS fund sales prospectuses.

June 1 - CEO Asoka Woehrmann announces he will step down at the bank's annual general meeting the following week. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," Woehrmann writes to staff.

June 9 - DWS annual general meeting, where Woehrmann underscores that DWS increased 2021 revenues by 22% and net profit by 40%. Stephan Hoops to take over as CEO after the meeting.

($1 = 0.9334 euros)

(Reporting by Tom Sims and Marta Orosz;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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