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Saturday 19 October 2019

Bank chief Jürgen Frick shot dead by ‘Robin Hood of Liechtenstein’

Police named Jürgen Hermann – involved in a feud with the bank – as the gunman
Police named Jürgen Hermann – involved in a feud with the bank – as the gunman

Tony Paterson

Liechtenstein police were today trying to unravel the facts behind the bizarre Mafia-style murder of a private banker who was shot dead in an underground car park by an allegedly disturbed fund manager who claimed to be the “Robin Hood” of the Alpine principality.

Jürgen Frick, 48, the chief executive of the Liechtenstein private bank Bank Frick, was gunned down by three shots in the garage of his bank near Balzers shortly after he arrived for work on Monday morning. His killer was seen fleeing the scene in a Smart car.

Police later identified the gunman as Jürgen Hermann, 58, a well-known fund manager in the principality who had been involved in a personal feud with the bank and the Liechtenstein government for more than seven years.

They said they had discovered Hermann’s abandoned car 16 miles from the scene of the crime near the river Rhine, and that he appeared to have committed suicide.

A police spokesman said clothing and documents, including a passport belonging to Hermann, were found, and that tracker dogs had subsequently traced his movements to the banks of the river. Police said initially that they assumed that Hermann had drowned himself.

“In the passport there were handwritten notes confessing to the crime, as well as parting words,” a police spokesman said. “Because of the circumstances and  the evidence, suicide has to  be assumed.”

However, there was speculation that Hermann could have faked his own suicide. Acquaintances were reported to have said that he was an accomplished diver who had practised the sport since the age of 14. Hermann was said to have once helped the US Navy to develop an underwater computer.

The reports added to an already-complex web of evidence surrounding the fund manager which emerged today: there were claims that Hermann was mentally disturbed and that he suffered from a “narcissistic personality disorder”.

In an undated biography published on his website the fund manager described himself as the “Robin Hood of Liechtenstein – public enemy number one”.

Bank Frick said that Hermann had tried to blackmail the bank and held it responsible for the collapse of his funds in 2005. It said that Hermann had demanded money and threatened to blacken the bank’s name abroad with spurious claims that it acted illegally.

On his website, Hermann accuses the Liechtenstein government and the country’s Financial Market Authority of “illegally destroying” his Hermann Finance investment company, of liquidating its funds and of “depriving me of my livelihood”.

Hermann was reported to have filed lawsuits seeking the recovery of 200m Swiss francs (£135m) from the Liechtenstein government and some Sfr33m (£22m) in damages from Bank Frick. Insiders said he held the  view that he was simply too successful for the Liechtenstein banks and authorities and that they had turned on him as a result.

In a statement, Bank Frick said that it had been seeking to prosecute Hermann for blackmailing and threatening the bank through the Liechtenstein legal authorities.

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