Police and judiciary have invaded the Deutsche Bank head office in Frankfurt. At least two employees are suspected of having helped customers to launder money from criminal activities. The men aged 50 and 46 have been arrested. The German police do not rule out that there are more detentions.
Many police cars can be seen in front of the main office in Frankfurt. Also at five other offices of the bank in Frankfurt are raids. About 170 agents, employees of the Public Prosecution Service and the tax authorities are on their feet.
The money laundering investigation has to do with the Panama Papers, says correspondent Kees van Dam. These are confidential documents from the Panamanian company Mossack Fonseca who ended up on the streets a few years ago. According to the German judiciary, it shows that Deutsche Bank customers helped to open questionable accounts in tax havens.
In 2016, for example, a division of the bank with the headquarters in the British Virgin Islands would have illegally earmarked money from Germany for 900 customers. It would amount to a total of 311 million euros. Discharging and circumventing taxes is punishable and the bank should have intervened, but that did not happen.
According to witnesses, the German justice has seized a large amount of documents and also laptops and computers. Deutsche Bank says that it cooperates fully in a statement, but the case is extremely painful.
Because it is not the first time that the bank is discredited, says Kees van Dam. “Very strict rules have been put in place: money laundering or cash flows that point to terrorist plans must be reported, and apparently internal controls will not work properly.”
It is not clear whether only the two or three employees knew about the money laundering activities or that managers were also aware. In the German press there are speculations that the case is much bigger. It may be a multibillion case involving banks from Denmark and America.
According to the Dutch regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), there must be a European approach to money laundering. “If I were a crook, I would laugh in my fist that it is still so organized nationally,” says Banks director at DNB Elderson.
In every country the banks now have their own approach to money laundering and it is not yet in order, not even in the Netherlands. It is here one of the spearheads in the supervision of the banks and that will remain the case for the time being, says DNB.
Many banks are working on it. There are more reports of unusual transactions and that is because it is on the agenda of the banks; they are working on improvement, says DNB.