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9 Sep, 2021 13:15

German prosecutors search finance & justice ministries as part of money-laundering probe

German prosecutors search finance & justice ministries as part of money-laundering probe

German prosecutors have searched the offices of the finance and justice ministries in Berlin, seizing documents related to a probe into possible obstruction of justice by a government agency tasked with tackling money laundering.

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is part of the Finance Customs Administration controlled by the Finance Ministry, has been under investigation since last year. The agency is suspected of not forwarding to law enforcement agents reports by banks of possible money laundering in the millions of euros.

The probe had been initiated after sketchy payments of more than €1 million (around $1.18 million) to Africa in 2018. At that time, the bank warned the FIU that the money could’ve been linked to trafficking of arms and drugs as well as financing of terrorism. The agency took note of the information, but refrained from passing it on to the police and the justice ministry.

The prosecutors were also looking into the reasons for a drastic decrease in the overall number of reports of suspicious activity since the FIU was assigned the job of controlling money laundering in Germany.

The investigators had previously raided the Finance Customs Administration, saying the papers they secured back then revealed “extensive communications” between the FIU and the two ministries.

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The search at the Finance and Justice Ministries on Thursday was aimed at “further clarifying the suspected criminal offense” and establishing if the officials in those ministries had been involved in the decision made by the FIU. The analysis of the newly obtained documents is going to take at least several weeks, the prosecutors said.

The two ministries released almost identical statements in response to the raid, saying that they expressed full support of the investigation, but stressing that no suspicion was directed against their staff.

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