German finance minister and Social Democratic Party candidate Olaf Scholz. Picture: POOL via REUTERS/MICHAEL KAPPELER
German finance minister and Social Democratic Party candidate Olaf Scholz. Picture: POOL via REUTERS/MICHAEL KAPPELER

German prosecutors raided the federal finance and justice ministries in Berlin as part of a probe into whether officials at an anti-money-laundering unit failed to handle cases correctly.

The investigation is looking into whether officials at the Financial Intelligence Unit — part of the finance ministry under Social Democrat chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz — failed to act on money-laundering warnings they received from banks, prosecutors in the city of Osnabrueck said on Thursday in an emailed statement.

This comes at a sensitive point for Scholz, who opinion polls suggest has a good chance of becoming Germany’s next chancellor after the September 26 election. The finance ministry has been under scrutiny for the failings of its agencies, FIU and Bafin, to detect the Wirecard scandal.

The case, which started in 2020 over a warning sent to the FIU about a 2018 payment to Africa of more than €1m, is suspected to have linked to drug and weapons trafficking and terrorism. The FIU didn’t inform police about it, which meant that the payment couldn’t be stopped, prosecutors said. An earlier raid at the FIU showed that there was “extensive communication” between the ministries and the FIU. 

The raid was done to “probe whether and to what extent the leadership and responsible people at the ministries and other supervising units were involved in decisions by the FIU,” prosecutors said.

Spokespeople at the justice ministry didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. 

“The aim of the public prosecutor’s action in several federal ministries is to get clarification of facts,” a spokesperson in the finance ministry said. “The underlying suspicion is expressly not directed against employees of the BMF.”

Der Spiegel reported the raids earlier.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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