German police raid Deutsche Bank offices on money laundering allegations; shares fall 3%

By Sam Meredith

German police conducted a search of Deutsche Bank's offices in Frankfurt on Thursday, amid allegations of money laundering against the country's flagship lender.

The investigations are directed against two Deutsche Bank staff members, with both accused of helping clients set up off-shore businesses to launder money gained from criminal deeds.

A total of 170 police officers, prosecutors and tax inspectors searched six of Deutsche Bank's offices on Thursday, Frankfurt's public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Numerous written and electronic business documents were seized from the bank, while further investigations are ongoing, it added.

"It is true that the police are currently investigating different locations of our bank in Germany. It's about a case related to the Panama Papers," Deutsche Bank said in statement Thursday, according to a Google translation.

"We will communicate as soon as we have more details. We will cooperate fully with the authorities," the bank said.

Shares of the bank slipped toward the bottom of the European benchmark on the news, down around 3 percent at 11:30 a.m. London time.

Meanwhile, U.S.-listed shares of Deutsche Bank fell nearly 5 percent in pre-market trade.

The public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt said an evaluation of data from the Panama Papers had triggered suspicion that the bank may have helped customers to create so-called "offshore companies" in tax havens around the world.

In 2016 alone, more than 900 customers with a business volume of 311 million euros ($353.6 million) were thought to have been cared for by a Deutsche Bank subsidiary based in the British Virgin Islands, the prosecutor said.

Statues stand outside a Deutsche Bank AG branch in Frankfurt, Germany.
Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Statues stand outside a Deutsche Bank AG branch in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Panama Papers scandal refers to a leak of millions of documents to the media by Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca in April 2016. It triggered a global scandal after showing how the rich and powerful allegedly used offshore companies to evade taxes.

The Papers have resulted in several banks, including Swedish lenders Nordea and Handelsbanken, being found guilty of breaching money laundering laws.