Police in Germany have raided the offices of Deutsche Bank in connection with the Panama Papers revelations and as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering.
About 170 police officers, prosecutors and tax inspectors searched six Deutsche Bank officers in and around Frankfurt, the public prosecutor’s office said. Investigators are looking into the activities of two Deutsche Bankemployees who allegedly helped clients to set up offshore companies to launder money, it added.
The Panama Papers, published by the Guardian and a consortium of international journalists in April 2016, revealed how offshore tax havens including the British Virgin Islands were used to hide billions of dollars.
The prosecutor’s office said it had seized written and electronic business documents. Police cars were parked outside the headquarters of the bank, Germany’s biggest lender.
In a statement Deutsche Bank confirmed the raid. “The investigation has to do with the Panama Papers case. More details will be communicated as soon as these become known. We are cooperating fully with the authorities,” it said.
Records from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca were the basis of the Panama Papers investigation and included more than 10m documents. The revelations caused protests in several countries and led to the resignation of several heads of state, including in Iceland and Pakistan.
Several banks, including the Swedish lenders Nordea and Handelsbanken have already been fined by financial regulators for violating money laundering rules as a result of the Panama Papers.
The prosecutors said they were 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 alone, more than 900 customers were served by a Deutsche Bank subsidiary registered on the British Virgin Islands, generating €300m, the prosecutors said.
They said Deutsche Bank employees were alleged to have breached their duties by neglecting to report money laundering suspicions about clients and offshore companies involved in tax evasion schemes.
The investigation is separate from another money laundering scandal surrounding the Danish lender Danske Bank, where Deutsche Bank is involved.
Denmark’s state prosecutor filed preliminary charges on Wednesday against Danske for alleged violations of the country’s anti-money-laundering act in relation to its Estonian branch.
Danske is under investigation for suspicious payments totalling €200bn from 2007 onwards and a source with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters that Deutsche Bank helped to process the bulk of the payments.