November 29, 2018
One hundred seventy officers searched the headquarters of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt and five other sites in the area early Thursday as part of a money-laundering investigation involving hundreds of millions of euros, prosecutors in Frankfurt said.
Two employees, who were not publicly identified but whose ages were given as 50 and 46, and other “unidentified people in positions of authority” are suspected of failing to report possible money laundering for transactions worth 311 million euros, or more than $350 million.
The money flowed to organizations in the British Virgin Islands before spring 2016, prosecutors said in an emailed statement.
The German bank confirmed in a statement that the police were investigating several of its offices in Germany and said the investigation related to the Panama Papers, a trove of files that put a spotlight on global money laundering. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities,” Deutsche said in the statement.
In April 2016, news organizations in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the Panama Papers, which revealed how some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, including more than 900 customers of Deutsche Bank, dodged taxes in their home countries by transferring money to offshore accounts.
Prosecutors said the documents indicated “that Deutsche Bank helped customers found offshore organizations in tax havens by transferring illegally acquired money without alerting authorities to suspected money laundering.”
Paper and electronic documents were gathered during Thursday’s raid, they said.
The prosecutor’s office said two bank employees were suspected of helping Deutsche Bank clients set up offshore accounts and the bank had failed to report the suspected money laundering.
Deutsche Bank, once known for its aggressive efforts to compete with Wall Street institutions, has shrunk after years of losses as a result of problems including a bloated investment bank and trading desk and costly legal settlements tied to the sale of toxic mortgage securities.
Even as its competitors have recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, Deutsche Bank has struggled. This year, the bank’s arm in the United States failed a Federal Reserve stress test, which found that it had “material weaknesses” in its operations.
The bank has also suffered regular turnovers in top management: Christian Sewing, who became chief executive in April this year, was the bank’s fourth chief executive or co-chief executive in four years. The company is also in the middle of a restructuring plan that is expected cut more than 7,000 jobs by the end of 2019.
Although an earnings preview suggested there would be some good news after years of restructuring, the report of the raid sent shares down more than 3 percent Thursday morning.