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German banks targeted in nationwide raids

May 15, 2019

German tax authorities raided the offices of several banks, tax consultants and wealthy people across the country. The suspects' tax evasion efforts allegedly have links to Germany's biggest lender.

German police take part in November raid on Deutsche Bank offices
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Roessler

German investigators raided the homes of eight people and 11 banks on Wednesday as part of a probe linked to the "Panama Papers" tax evasion scandal.

Officials searched for "evidence of untaxed income" at locations across Germany, which also included the offices of four tax consultants, Frankfurt state prosecutors said.

The wealthy individuals are suspected of founding letter-box companies in the British Virgin Islands with the help of a former Deutsche Bank subsidiary to evade capital gains tax, they added.

Authorities did not say which banks were searched or the estimated loss of tax revenue. Deutsche Bank said in a statement that no raid had taken place in its offices.

Read more: Paradise Papers — what you need to know

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office told the AFP news agency that the investigation was targeting clients and tax advisers rather than the banks.

The probe began based on evidence in the "Panama Papers," a collection of documents released by a group of investigative journalists in early 2016 that showed how politicians and celebrities evaded tax in the central American country.

Wednesday's raids followed similar searches at Deutsche Bank in November. Officials inspected bank documents in connection with allegations that some employees had helped people create letter-box firms in tax havens to evade German tax.

Governments in 22 countries have collected more than $1.2 billion (€1 billion) in unpaid tax and fines based on the "Panama Papers," the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said last month.

amp/msh (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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