Germany: German finance ministry raided in money laundering probe

German prosecutors raided the finance and justice ministries on Thursday as part of an investigation into the government’s anti-money laundering agency, putting a spotlight on Germany’s failings in tackling financial crime.

The probe into the Financial Intelligence Unit, an agency of the finance ministry under Social Democrat chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, is looking at whether it was told to ignore warnings of suspect payments to Africa.

The raids come at a pivotal moment for Scholz, who opinion polls suggest has a good chance of becoming German chancellor in national elections on Sept 26.

Scholz rebuffed criticism from lawmakers following the raids, but the episode casts a cloud because it refocuses attention on the ministry he runs. The FIU and BaFin, the financial regulator, which also answers to Scholz have been under scrutiny for failing to spot problems at payments firm Wirecard, which collapsed last year in Germany’s biggest corporate fraud.

“This is a security risk for Germany,” said lawmaker Fabio De Masi. “We need financial police with criminal expertise. Germany is a paradise for criminals.”

Scholz, speaking on a campaign stop in Potsdam, said he had bolstered staff at the FIU agency to almost 500 from 165 and invested heavily in better equipping it.

He signalled his frustration with the raids, saying that prosecutors with questions “could have put them in writing”.

The FIU declined to comment.

The original full article can be found at reuters.com

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