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Investigation of Deutsche Bank headquarters spills into second day

Monday, December 3, 2018

On Friday, German police investigators continued their previous day's search of the headquarters of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, for evidence of money laundering and other wrongdoing in connection to the group of leaked financial documents called the Panama Papers. A police spokesperson explained the roughly 170 searchers, including officers, prosecutors and tax experts, encountered such a volume of material the matter could not be concluded in one day.

The allegations are that, from 2013 onward, two employees of Deutche Bank helped clients to avoid taxes and other regulations by creating offshore companies. Bank officials announced Thursday they were cooperating with authorities but made no further comment.

The stock value of Deutsche Bank dropped roughly by half over the course of 2018. Last year, the governments of the United States and United Kingdom fined Deutsche Bank US$630 million for laundering money from Russia through its offices in Moscow and London. This fall, BaFIN, a German regulator, sent a special representative to order Detusche Bank to improve its anti-money-laundering practices and see that it did.

"Panama Papers" is an umbrella term for roughly ten million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, leaked to the press in spring 2016. The documents showed fourteen banks helped wealthy clients hide billions of US dollars of wealth to avoid taxes and other regulations. British newspaper The Guardian suggested Deutsche Bank controlled roughly a third of the 1200 shell companies used to accomplish this. There were protests worldwide, several criminal prosecutions, and the leaders of the governments of Iceland and Pakistan both resigned.

Ava Lee of anti-corruption organization Global Witness said, "Almost three years on, and law enforcement are still relying on the Panama Papers for their work. It shows how investigative journalism has been at the forefront of opening the door on a morass of morally dubious — and sometimes illegal — activity by banks[.]"

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist who played a prominent role in investigation based on the Panama Papers, was killed in a car bombing last year.


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