German police officers and other officials swarmed Deutsche Bank’s Frankfurt offices on Thursday regarding money-laundering transactions dating back to 2013.
Officers seized documents from the bank’s headquarters and five other properties, one of which was a worker’s home.
German prosecutors based their action on an investigation revolving around a money-laundering scandal in documents dubbed the “Panama Papers,” and “Offshore Leaks,” a collaborative investigation between the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media companies. This exposed massive global money-laundering practices.
The Panama Papers and other documents charged that Deutsche Bank had set up shell companies in tax havens for clients, and money generated from crimes valued at more than $350 million, was not reported.
“As far as we are concerned, we have already provided the authorities with all the relevant information regarding Panama Papers,” Deutsche Bank said in a statement via Twitter, acknowledging the raid. “Of course, we will cooperate closely with the public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt, as it is in our interest as well to clarify the facts.”
The scheme’s suspects are two Deutsche Bank employees aged 50 and 46, and other unnamed individuals. The money was transported to shells in the British Virgin Islands.
The Panama Papers are a collection of documents from a law firm that specialized in shell companies for extremely wealthy individuals. Owning a shell company, which is a fictitious business that only exists on paper for the means to hold assets anonymously, is not illegal. In fact, almost anyone can set up an offshore shell company for about $1,000. Due to their secretive nature, shells have been used as vehicles for crooked financial activities.
“More details will be communicated as soon as these become known,” Deutsche Bank said.
In Frankfurt, the bank’s shares were down 3.4% by close of trading Thursday.