Tax investigators and police have raided commercial offices in Germany as they looked into allegations of large-scale tax evasion with regard to profits made in Luxembourg. Commerzbank was at the center of the searches.
Media reports said police had raided scores of office premises across Germany on Tuesday as investigators looked into possible cases of tax evasion and money laundering with regard to earnings made by banking clients in Luxembourg.
Cologne's chief prosecutor, Ulrich Bremer, said 20 police and over 130 tax investigators were involved in the searches throughout the day.
"Investigations are directed against taxable persons who in order to systematically evade corporate tax acquired offshore holdings so as to conceal capital earnings at their Luxembourg-based banks," he said.
Germany's second-largest bank in focus
According to investigators, Commerzbank was at the center of the raids on suspicion that some staffers at the lender's subsidiary in Luxembourg had aided and abetted clients in evading taxes.
Commerzbank officials had earlier admitted that they'd moved into the firing line of investigators.
"Commerzbank has a vested interest in a thorough investigation and will certainly fully support the authorities," the lender told Reuters, adding that the cases under investigation were related to operations dating back 10 years or longer.
Prosecutors did not immediately specify how much money they suspect had been concealed from tax authorities. Newspaper reports said spoke of several hundred million euros up to 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion).
hg/sgb (dpa, AFP, Reuters)