German police search Deutsche Bank offices in tax haven case

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Police raided six Deutsche Bank offices in and around Frankfurt on Thursday over money laundering allegations linked to the "Panama Papers", the public prosecutor's office in Germany's financial capital said.

Other Deutsche offices in the city were searched in an operation involving about 170 police and officials.

The investigation relates to the Panama Papers.

The Papers revealed the financial secrets of the world's financial and criminal elite, detailing years of tax avoidance and money laundering in the hundreds of millions - including millions of pounds from the Queen's private estate.

In 2016 alone, more than 900 customers were served by a Deutsche Bank subsidiary registered on the British Virgin Islands, generating €300m, the prosecutors said.

Deutsche Bank confirmed the search of its offices and said it was fully cooperating with the authorities.

"The case is related to the Panama Papers", it added.

"... Most importantly, the lack of transparency and regulatory control have made cryptocurrencies a target for criminal purposes and we know that they on several occasions have been involved in criminal transactions like money laundering or extortion", it reads.

Markus Meinzer, director of the Financial Secrecy Tax Justice Network, said the "raid is long overdue because the Panama Papers have amply illustrated how offshore law firms cooperated with banks in setting up structures with one single aim: to help clients hide their true identities".

Shares in Deutsche Bank were down 3.4 percent at 8.30 euros in the early afternoon, making them the worst performing stock on the DAX blue-chip index.

It was fined more than $797 million by USA and United Kingdom authorities in January 2017 for allowing customers to transfer more than $13 billion out of Russian Federation in what regulators said was "highly suggestive of financial crime".

The Panama Papers, published by the Guardian and a consortium of global journalists in April 2016, revealed how offshore tax havens including the British Virgin Islands were used to hide billions of dollars.

The bank is being investigated over money-laundering suspicions raised by the 2016 data leak.

The Danish bank said many of those payments were suspicious.

At the time, Deutsche Bank severed ties with a Cypriot lender partly owned by VTB Group that was identified in the reporting.

Deutsche Bank has also come under scrutiny over its activities as a correspondent for scandal-plagued Danske Bank, Denmark's largest lender.

There was no indication that Thursday's raid was linked to that scandal, though Deutsche Bank says that it has since stopped providing dollar transactions in some countries, including Latvia.

According to the report, numerous bank records have been seized as part of this raid.

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