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January 19, 2012

Deutsche Analyst Sounded Alarm When Asked to Alter Numbers

At a time when mortgage-backed securities were imploding and customers were fleeing the market, a junior analyst at Deutsche Bank AG protested when he was asked to alter the numbers in a spreadsheet to make a Deutsche security look less risky to ratings agencies, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The analyst, this person said, was asked by a mid-level Deutsche executive in late 2007 to make it appear that the investment would produce more cash than the bank actually expected at certain time points.

The request came at a crucial moment. In the last months of 2007, investors had grown skittish about such investments amid signs that the housing bubble was deflating, if not bursting. Up and down Wall Street, banks were trying to persuade ratings agencies that large portions of their mortgage-backed securities merited the coveted AAA stamp, meaning that they posed negligible risks of default. The analyst was asked to alter the spreadsheets in order to get a better rating, the person said.

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