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 gas giant reports steep losses from Russian squeeze

German energy giant Uniper on Wednesday reported heavy first-half losses which it blamed on Russia squeezing gas deliveries in the wake of the Ukraine war.

German gas giant reports steep losses from Russian squeeze

The company, which accepted a government rescue package last month, said that it had recorded a net loss in the first six months of the year of €12.3 billion ($12.5 billion).

“Uniper has for months been playing a crucial role in stabilising Germany’s gas supply at the cost of billions in losses resulting from the sharp drop in gas deliveries from Russia,” CEO Klaus-Dieter Maubach said in a statement.

The German government agreed in late July to take an around 30-percent stake in Uniper, which was threatened with bankruptcy as a result of the crisis.

Maubach said on Wednesday that the bailout would “prevent a chain reaction that would do much more damage”.

READ ALSO: German government to take 30 percent stake in gas company Uniper

“Our top priority now is to swiftly implement the stabilisation package,” he added.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz interrupted his summer holiday to announce the rescue plan, calling Uniper a “company of vital importance for the economic development of our country and for the energy supply of our citizens”.

Uniper said the “volatile environment” meant that it could not provide an earnings forecast for the current financial year.

But it expected “to record negative earnings owing to the significant reduction in Russian gas deliveries”.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused turmoil in European energy markets, especially in Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas.

EU states have accused Russia of choking supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions over the war, with Germany charging that Moscow is usingnenergy as a “weapon”.

Russia in July restored critical gas supplies to Europe through Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline after 10 days of maintenance, but at low volumes, and suspicions linger that the Kremlin may trigger an energy crisis on the continent this winter.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are Germany’s alternatives to Russian gas?