In Depth

Deutsche Bank HQ raided in Panama Papers probe

German police swoop on Frankfurt offices following money laundering claims

German police have raided the head offices of finance giant Deutsche Bank as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering linked to the Panama Papers disclosures.

Various Deutsche Bank locations in and around Frankfurt, including its downtown headquarters, were searched by around 170 police officers, prosecutors and tax inspectors this morning. The authorities later said written and electronic business documents had been seized.

Prosecutors claim the bank - Germany’s biggest lender - set up offshore shell companies for around 900 customers, who used them to “transfer money from criminal activities”.  If figures in the Panama Papers are accurate, a total of around €311m (£277m) was laundered.

Deutsche Bank employees suspected of breaching their duty to report money laundering suspicions may be prosecuted. Multiple bankers are said to be under investigation, with attention focused principally on two people who still work at the institution, reports Bloomberg

“As far as we are concerned, we have already provided the authorities with all of the relevant information regarding the Panama Papers,” Deutsche Bank spokesperson Joerg Eigendorf told reporters in Frankfurt following the raid.

The Panama Papers scandal first erupted in 2016, with the leak of more than 11.5 million files from the database of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The documents contained information on the offshore accounts of 214,488 companies and 14,153 clients, and spanned from 1977 until the end of 2015.

As a result of the leak, several banks including Swedish lenders Nordea and Handelsbanken have already been fined by financial regulators for violating money laundering rules.

Markus Meinzer, financial director of the UK-based Tax Justice Network, told German news broadcaster Deutsche Welle that he was surprised German authorities has been so slow to investigate the Panama Papers revelations.

“It has been two years that they’ve been analysing these files,” Meinzer said. “We have seen in other situations that German prosecutors took a very long to take action.”

The raid “adds to a panoply of headaches”  - commercial, regulatory and legal - facing the banking powerhouse, with “repeated failures in keeping misconduct in check” pushing its shares to record lows, adds Bloomberg.

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