Sunday, May 22, 2022

Deutsche Bank HQ searched in money laundering investigation

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German authorities have raided Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt over suspected money laundering at the country’s largest lender.

Officers from the financial regulator BaFin, the federal police, and the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office launched a raid on the bank’s glass-panelled offices – known locally as the “twin towers” – on Friday morning after securing a search warrant from the local court.

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Deutsche Bank said the issue had been self-reported and it was “fully cooperating” with police and prosecutors who launched the raid on its offices at 10am.

“This is an investigative measure by the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office in connection with suspicious activity reports [SARs] filed by the bank,” the lender said in a statement. “Deutsche Bank is fully cooperating with the authorities.”

Banks and other financial institutions file SARs with law enforcement bodies when they suspect a client may be using their services for potential criminal activity. However, SARs do not mean a client is guilty of wrongdoing or require a bank to cease doing business with the client.

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It is understood that the issue is linked to the late filing of an SAR related to Deutsche Bank’s role as a correspondent bank, where it does business on behalf of another lender.

A spokesperson for Frankfurt’s public prosecutor said they could not provide any further information while the investigation was ongoing.

Deutsche Bank shares fell nearly 2.6% following the news.

Deutsche Bank is Germany’s largest lender and employs nearly 3,000 staff at its headquarters in Frankfurt.

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The Deutsche Bank offices were also subject to a two-day raid by 170 police in 2018, with staff later accused of helping wealthy clients evade tax. Prosecutors later dropped its investigation into two employees but fined the lender over shortfalls in its compliance procedures.

Deutsche Bank has struggled to repair its reputation after a number of scandals and affiliations with controversial clients including the former US president Donald Trump.

The lender was fined $630m (£501m) in 2017 after US and UK authorities accused the bank of failing to spot fraudulent trades worth up to $10bn that allowed money to be laundered out of Russia. Two years earlier, it was fined $2.5bn by the same authorities for its role in rigging the Libor interest rate between 2003 and 2007.

It was also fined €13.5m (£11.3m) by Frankfurt prosecutors in 2020 for failing to submit a suspicious report over transactions processed on behalf of Danske Bank’s Estonian branch in a timely manner.

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