Deutsche Bank. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Deutsche Bank. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

Berlin — A German probe looking at Deutsche Bank, prompted by the Panama Papers, brought a wave of raids by Frankfurt prosecutors targeting eight wealthy individuals who may have hidden money in offshore companies.

The suspects’ homes were raided on Wednesday, as were the offices of more than 20 banks, tax advisers and asset-management companies in an investigation into tax evasion. The prosecutors in Frankfurt didn’t identify the banks, people or companies concerned. Once the raids were completed, they said, more information would be disclosed.

The case is related to searches of Deutsche Bank in November. That probe, looking into money-laundering allegations against bank employees, stems from the 2016 disclosures known as the Panama Papers and focuses on a former unit in the British Virgin Islands that processed €311m in 2016 alone. Wednesday’s raids are now targeting the clients who enlisted help from the BVI unit to set up offshore companies.

Deutsche Bank was one of the 11 lenders visited by investigators with a search warrant, according to a person familiar with the situation who declined to be identified because the case is still private.

“The investigations are not directed against Deutsche Bank,” Christian Streckert, a spokesperson for the Frankfurt-based lender, said in a statement. “Deutsche Bank is co-operating with the public prosecutor’s office and voluntarily gives all documents requested. A search of the bank’s business premises has therefore not taken place.”

The six asset-management companies are based in Hamburg. There are also four tax advisers caught up in the probe.

The homes of the rich clients are in the German cities of Bad Toelz, Erkrath, Hamburg, Konz, Simmerath and on Sylt, an island in the North Sea.