Money laundering: 1,400 officers raid 81 buildings in Western Germany

The target of the investigation was an allegedly active, international money laundering network. [shutterstock/ B.Dpunkt]

Police searched 81 locations in more than 20 cities across Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Bremen in a massive operation targeting money laundering and organised crime that included special forces, state security and tax investigators.

The target of the investigation was an allegedly active, international money laundering network.

“This was a damn big thing today, worked on for a long time and under strict secrecy,” said Herbert Ruel, interior minister of Germany’s largest state NRW, as reported by DW. His colleague, the state’s justice minister, Peter Biesenbach, spoke of a “bombshell” against organised crime.

The Düsseldorf public prosecutors office said they had confiscated €800,000 and €500,000 in cash on separate occasions, as well as a sports car and a luxury Hi-Fi system.

The investigations began in secret after an accident in 2020 had revealed €300,000 in a sports bag, revealing a large illegal money-transfer network from refugees to the middle east generally referred to as “Hawala-banking”.

The bankers would receive cash in Germany or the Netherlands and message their co-conspirators on WhatsApp, paying out locals in Turkey or Syria.

Investigators believe that suspects had used some of the money made from this shadow banking service to finance terrorism.

(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer  | EURACTIV.de)

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