Deutsche Bank chief Josef Ackermann and five other former Mannesmann directors have appeared in court in Duesseldorf for the opening of Germany’s highest profile corporate trial. Ackermann and others could be jailed for up to ten years if found guilty. The six are accused of unlawfully approving payments to Esser, former head of Mannesmann, and other managers after its takeover by Vodafone – at the time the biggest acquisition in history. Opening the trial, state prosecutor Johannes Puls repeated the ‘breach of trust’ charges, arguing that the defendants had damaged Mannesmann by approving self-serving pension payments and discretionary bonuses worth EUR57 million. Ackermann has repeatedly stated that he considered himself not guilty.