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German prosecutors search ministries in money laundering probe

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September 9, 2021

BERLIN (Reuters) – German prosecutors said on Thursday they had seized documents at the finance and justice ministries as part of an investigation into possible obstruction of justice by a government agency that is responsible for investigating money laundering.

Prosecutors said in a statement they had been investigating the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) since 2020 because the agency had not forwarded reports made by banks of possible money laundering to the police and the judiciary.

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The investigation was triggered after a bank reported to the FIU suspicious payments to Africa of more than 1 million euros ($1.18 million), that the bank believed might be linked to trafficking of arms and drugs and terrorism financing.

The FIU took note of the report but did not forward it to law enforcement agencies.

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Prosecutors said they were also looking into the fact that since the FIU took over control of money laundering in 2017, reports of suspicious activity have dropped drastically.

They said that previous searches of the FIU had revealed that there had been extensive communication with the ministries that were searched on Thursday.

Prosecutors want to establish to what extent officials at the ministries were involved in decisions by the FIU.

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The FIU is part of the Federal Customs Administration, which is controlled by the finance ministry.

($1 = 0.8453 euros)

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Joseph Nasr and Jane Merriman)

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