Multiple offices belonging to Deutsche Bank have been raided by German investigators looking for evidence of possible money laundering. Six properties were searched in Gross-Umstadt, Frankfurt, and Eschborn by a total of 170 officers from the Criminal Bureau of Investigation, the federal police, the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office, and the tax fraud office early Thursday. Officials seized electronic documents and paperwork belong to the bank during the raids.
German investigators launched the probe after analyzing the Panama Papers tax haven leak two years ago, as well as the earlier Offshore Leaks report of offshore bank accounts. The leaks showed that hundreds of millions of euros were laundered by the criminals in an investigation brought about from an evaluation of the online data leaks.
The investigators suspect employees of the bank helped 900 customers to set up offshore companies in tax havens. Investigators further believe that criminals involved in the money laundering activity transferred the proceeds to their Deutsche Bank accounts, but the lender failed to stop the transactions. Authorities say a total of €311 million, equivalent to $354 million may have been laundered.
Investigators say that based on information fetched from the Panama Papers leak, the lender also failed to report suspicious money laundering activities linked to offshore companies involved in the large-scale tax evasion. They believe the bank had sufficient evidence to know it was engaging in illegal activities.
Deutsche Bank released a statement on the matter saying, “We confirm that police are currently investigating our bank at various locations in Germany. The investigation concerns the Panama Papers. We will share more details as soon as we have them and we will cooperate with authorities.”
The explosive Panama Papers scandal was leaked by Mossack Fonsenca, a legal firm based in Panama, which exposed how wealthy and powerful people from various parts of the world stashed their assets in offshore businesses to avoid paying taxes.The leak identified at least 28 German entities, including Deutsche Bank, according to reports at the time.
Deutsche Bank, which is the largest lender in Germany, has also been hit by multiple scandals dating back to its 2008 crisis when it was attempting to take on the investment banking giants of Wall Street.
Last year, the bank was asked to pay a fine of nearly $630 million after American and British authorities investigated it for laundering $10 billion, or €8.8 billion from Russia. The U.S. Federal Reserve later imposed a further fine of $41 million on the bank for gaps in its money laundering surveillance.
Deutsche Bank has suffered losses in the last three years, burnt €19 billion, or $21.6 billion of shareholder value in five years, and lost a sizable customer base in the country. Shares of the lender lost more than 3% in morning trading following the news.