Deutsche Bank headquarters raided in money laundering probe going into 2018

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Deutsche Bank's Frankfurt offices have been raided by German police this morning in a suspected money laundering investigation.

Other Deutsche offices in the city were searched in an operation involving about 170 police and officials. Of course, we will cooperate closely with the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt, as it is in our interest as well to clarify the facts.

In 2017, Deutsche Bank was fined $630m (£504m) by USA and United Kingdom regulators in connection with a Russian money laundering plan.

Two years ago, the release of the Panama Papers gave taxpayers around the world an unprecedented look at offshore tax havens.

"Even in the most egregious cases, banks are often only required to pay a monetary penalty for engaging in criminal activity, which is merely the cost of doing business", said Jimmy Gurule, a former undersecretary for enforcement for the U.S. Treasury Department. The German authorities began looking into the potentially illegal actions of the country's largest bank as a result of those document leaks.

The revelations reportedly began with the 2016 Panama Papers, which detailed the then-secret, shady money dealings of global financiers.

The bank tweeted: "It is true that the police is now conducting an investigation at a number of our offices in Germany".

Deutsche Bank was among hundreds of financial institutions whose names cropped up in the media reports about the Panama Papers.

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Why are police raiding Deutsche Bank in Germany today?

The main suspects in the probe focused on a unit in the British Virgin Islands that processed €311 million (NZ$517 million) in 2016 alone were two bank employees identified by their ages - 50 and 46.

The prosecutor suspects further that proceeds from criminal activity were transferred into Deutsche Bank accounts without the bank flagging the transactions as potential money-laundering cases.

Deutsche Bank shares slid sharply after the news broke, and were down 3.75 percent in midday trading in Frankfurt.

In 2017, Deutsche already had to pay a fine of nearly $630 million after an investigation by British and American authorities into laundering of money originating in Russian Federation. This year, the bank saw its credit rating downgraded, its CEO ousted and its stock price hit a record low. A Deutsche Bank executive director has said the lender played only a secondary role as a so-called correspondent bank to Danske Bank, limiting what it needed to know about the people behind the transactions.

And it's not the first time Deutsche Bank has run into trouble over the flow of dirty money.

The news comes as Deutsche Bank tries to fix its tattered reputation after three years of losses and a drumbeat of financial and regulatory scandals.