German authorities conducted a large-scale raid against 27 suspects accused of “membership in a criminal organization”, the public prosecutor’s office in Dusseldorf and the state criminal investigation office (LKA) announced on Tuesday.
The suspects, aged between 23 and 61, were accused of illegally operating a so-called hawala banking system in Germany without the approval of the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.
“Assets presumed to have been acquired illegally in the amount of several million euros were transferred to other states, bypassing the legal banking system,” according to the investigators.
In Germany, the hawala system is mainly used by migrants for cheap financial transfer to their families back at home, especially in cases where there is no functioning banking system in the migrants’ country of origin.
On Tuesday, more than 60 private households and shops had been searched in Germany as well as in the Netherlands under the leadership of a newly-established joint task force of police, tax investigators and the judiciary.
German media reported that different cash deposit points across Germany, often jeweler shops, had been operated to transfer money illegally.
A total of more than 850 police officers and 11 public prosecutors from the Dusseldorf public prosecutor’s office were in action during the raid, according to authorities.