SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, DIE WELT (Germany)
MUNICH - New details have emerged Friday of a vast police raid this week against Deutsche Bank in an ongoing tax evasion case. Some 500 state prosecutors, tax and crime investigators were involved in the Wednesday raids on Deutsche Bank offices in Frankfurt and branches in Berlin and Düsseldorf.
Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the bank is accused of destroying evidence relevant to tax evasion charges in connection with the trade of emissions certificates. The missing evidence – e-mails concerning the allegedly criminal activities – is a central reason given for the arrest of five bank employees.
Deutsche Bank HQ in Frankfurt (Jürgen Matern)
Said to have been involved in the alleged cover-up are employees in the IT and legal departments including one senior legal figure. One of the bank’s money laundering experts was also arrested at the behest of Frankfurt prosecutors. He is thought to have neglected to report firms that investigators say tried to evade taxes to the tune of several hundred million euros in the trade with CO2 certificates.
Both the bank and accused individuals vehemently deny charges. After a first raid in 2010, Deutsche Bank promised the authorities its full cooperation and said it would turn over all documents relevant to the alleged criminal dealings with the certificates. However, two years on the Attorney General’s office and the Federal Criminal Police discovered that there were missing e-mails and asked for them to be delivered. Some of them were, but others had been deleted.
Sources close to the bank say there was no manipulation – just a few unintentional holes amounting to perhaps “a thousandth” of the mass of documentation concerning the trades.
Die Welt columnist Sebastian Jost notes that the scale of the investigation against the German banking powerhouse sends a clear message from authorities to the financial institutions that there will be no one spared in the pursuit of rooting out foul play.