Deutsche Börse’s chief executive, Carsten Kengeter, said he was sure allegations of insider trading would prove “unfounded”, in his first public statement since a German prosecutor announced it was investigating him.Frankfurt’s public prosecutor said earlier this month that it was investigating Mr Kengeter in relation to his purchase of 60,000 shares in Deutsche Börse on December 14, 2015, as part of a company incentive scheme in which he had been asked to participate by the company’s board.

The prosecutor’s office said that Mr Kengeter was suspected of having bought the shares despite knowing that talks between the leaders of Deutsche Börse and the London Stock Exchange Group about a possible merger had taken place between July and August and December 2015 – which it considered insider information.

The two exchanges operators said in February 2016 that they were in talks, and a deal was announced in March. Deutsche Börse says that formal talks began in the second half of January 2016.

At Deutsche Börse’s annual press conference in Frankfurt on Thursday, Mr Kengeter said that, due to the pending investigation, he could not “make any specific statements”.

He added:

What I can say is that I am personally deeply concerned by these insider trading allegations. Insider trading is against my innermost conviction.

When I purchased the shares using my own funds, I did not do so at a time of my own choosing. I did so between 1 and 21 December 2015, i.e. within the timeframe fixed by the supervisory board for participation in the remuneration programme.

The purchase was then publicized immediately. In addition, the purchased shares are subject to a holding period which extends until the end of 2019.

Deutsche Börse’s supervisory board has backed Mr Kengeter, with chairman Joachim Faber describing the accusations as “untenable”.

Deutsche Börse said that it had reviewed its processes in 2015 internally and via external experts, and found that no merger negotiations with the LSE had taken place that year.

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