Deutsche Bank faces probe over allegations of money laundering

FRANKFURT • Around 170 police officers, prosecutors and tax inspectors searched six Deutsche Bank offices in and around Frankfurt yesterday over money laundering allegations, the Frankfurt public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Investigators are looking into the activities of two Deutsche Bank staff members who are alleged to have helped clients set up offshore firms to launder money, it said.

Written and electronic business documents were seized from Deutsche Bank and further investigations are ongoing, the prosecutor's office added.

Deutsche Bank confirmed the search of its offices and said it was fully cooperating with the authorities.

The probe was triggered after investigators reviewed so-called "Offshore Leaks" and "Panama Papers", the prosecutors said.

The Panama Papers, which consists of millions of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, was leaked to the media in April 2016.

Several banks, including Swedish lenders Nordea and Handelsbanken, have already been fined by financial regulators for violating money laundering rules as a result of those papers.

The prosecutors said they are looking at whether Deutsche Bank may have assisted clients to set up "offshore companies" in tax havens so that funds transferred to accounts at Deutsche Bank could skirt anti-money laundering safeguards.

In 2016, over 900 customers were served by a Deutsche Bank subsidiary registered on the British Virgin Islands, generating a volume of €311 million (S$485 million), the prosecutors said.

They also said Deutsche Bank employees are alleged to have breached their duties by neglecting to report money laundering suspicions about clients and offshore companies involved in tax evasion.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline 'Deutsche Bank faces probe over allegations of money laundering'. Print Edition | Subscribe