Deutsche Bank offices raided in money-laundering probe

Investigators searched the offices of Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank on Friday, prosecutors said, with the focus on the bank's anti-money-laundering activities.

Deutsche Bank
A photo taken on August 13, 2021 shows the Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. (Photo by ARMANDO BABANI / AFP)

Officers from the BKA federal police, the financial watchdog BaFin and the prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt had been “deployed” to the scene, they said.

The raid was linked to “suspicious activity reports filed by the bank” in relation to money-laundering, Deutsche Bank said in a statement, adding that it was cooperating with authorities.

Financial newspaper Handelsblatt said investigators were probing a transaction carried out several years ago involving Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

READ ALSO: Deutsche Bank to pay $130m to settle US bribery probes

Although Assad did not have an account with Deutsche Bank, the institution is said to have distributed money to the Assad family as part of a technical agreement with other banks, the paper reported.

Deutsche Bank has in recent years been closely watched by financial authorities in relation to suspicious transactions.

BaFin in 2021 called on management at the lender to redouble their efforts to tackle money-laundering activities. Investigators searched Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in 2019 for failing to report possibly illicit money flows.

READ ALSO: German police raid Deutsche Bank in ‘Panama Papers’ graft probe

The Frankfurt-based group also came under scrutiny for its role as a correspondence bank that handled foreign transactions for Danske Bank’s Estonian branch, at the centre of a €200-billion ($212-billion) money-laundering affair between 2007 and 2015.

Deutsche Bank subsequently agreed to pay a fine of €13.5 million for failing to report suspicious activity quickly enough, after an investigation by Frankfurt prosecutors.

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German airline Lufthansa optimistic for 2022 as tourist demand bounces back

German national carrier Lufthansa on Thursday reported it slashed its losses in the first quarter and set its sights on a record summer for tourist traffic as demand recovers from the pandemic.

German airline Lufthansa optimistic for 2022 as tourist demand bounces back

The airline group’s net loss over the first three months of 2022 came to €584 million ($620 million), down from one billion euros in the same quarter last year.

The improved result owed in part to the pick up in air traffic as coronavirus-related restrictions were rolled back in many countries and fears over the Omicron variant ebbed.

READ ALSO: Omicron wave forces German airline Lufthansa to axe 33,000 flights

The number of passengers on Lufthansa flights “more than quadrupled” in the first quarter to 13 million, from three million in 2021, when travel restrictions in many markets were more severe.

“New bookings are increasing from week to week,” Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said in a statement, with demand rising particularly strongly among leisure travellers.

“More people are expected to fly on holiday” with the group than ever before this summer, Lufthansa said in a statement.

For business travel, the recovery was slower, with the group expecting traffic to reach “around 70 percent” of its pre-coronavirus level by the end of the year.

In all, Lufthansa expected to offer “around 75 percent” of its pre-crisis capacity over the year.

The group’s cargo division had a “record result” in the first quarter, Lufthansa said, as demand for freight remain high amid turmoil in global supply chains.

The segment recorded an operating profit of €495 million, up from €315 million in the first quarter of 2021.

Europe’s largest airline group – which includes Eurowings, Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines – struggled at the outbreak of the pandemic and was saved from bankruptcy by a government bailout.

In response to the pandemic, Lufthansa bosses embarked on a major job-cutting programme which has seen over 30,000 positions shed since 2020, out of 140,000 jobs globally. The company said late last year it still had plans to get rid of 3,000 more jobs.

Lufthansa expected its financial performance “further improve in the coming quarters”, chief financial officer Remco Steenbergen said.

But people flying with the airline will face higher prices for tickets. 

The group said it would have to “pass through rising costs to customers”, Steenbergen said.

“Extreme changes in the price of kerosene” as energy costs surge in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine could have an unpredictable effect on the end of year result, Lufthansa said.