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Prosecutors search Deutsche Bank HQ in money laundering investigation

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·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Germany's Deutsche Bank headquarters are pictured in Frankfurt
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By Tom Sims and Frank Siebelt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Prosecutors, federal police and other officials searched Deutsche Bank's headquarters in Frankfurt on Friday in a move Germany's largest lender said was linked to suspicions of money laundering it had reported to the authorities.

Under Chief Executive Christian Sewing, Deutsche Bank has been trying to repair its reputation after a series of embarrassing and costly regulatory failings, including another raid over money laundering in 2018.

In a statement, Deutsche Bank said the search was related to suspicious transactions it had itself passed on to authorities and that it was cooperating fully.

At issue is whether Deutsche Bank filed the so-called suspicious activity report in a timely manner or not, a person with knowledge of the matter said. Deutsche was acting as a correspondent bank in the transaction, the person said.

Prosecutors said they had a search warrant but declined to elaborate. They said representatives of financial regulator BaFin were also taking part.

BaFin and federal police declined to comment.

The bank's shares fell more than 3% following news of the search and were down 0.4% in Frankfurt by 1500 GMT.

Problems with money laundering have landed the bank in hot water in the past.

In 2020, Deutsche Bank was fined 13.5 million euros for late reporting of suspicious activities linked to potential money laundering.

The U.S. Department of Justice has also been investigating it for years over trades that authorities said were used to launder $10 billion out of Russia, which has led to the German bank being fined nearly $700 million.

In 2018, BaFin took the unusual step of installing KPMG as a special monitor at Deutsche to oversee progress on money laundering controls.

Last year, BaFin ordered Deutsche to enact further safeguards to prevent money laundering and the regulator widened the auditor's mandate.

Deutsche has said it has beefed up resources to combat money laundering.

This week, the bank posted a better-than-expected 17% rise in first-quarter profit as investment banking revenue climbed, but it warned that the conflict in Ukraine could hurt annual earnings.

A Reuters witness said that there was no sign of authorities outside the bank's headquarters on Friday.

That contrasts with the 2018 raid when about 170 police and other officials arrived in blue and grey marked vehicles.

(Reporting by Tom Sims, Frank Siebelt and Reuters TV; Editing by Thomas Escritt, Sabine Wollrab and David Clarke)

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