Cologne / Essen On the trail of dirty money: More than 600 officials swarmed nationwide to shut down a flourishing money laundering facility. One focus was in Cologne.
More than 600 officials have carried out a blow against a suspected gang of money launderers in several federal states. They are said to have created an illegal financial transfer system to smuggle “dirty” money into the legal financial cycle.
Real estate, expensive cars, luxury watches and gold have been confiscated, a spokeswoman for the customs investigation office in Essen reported on Wednesday. Eight suspects were arrested. In a safe in Cologne, the investigators discovered bags with massive gold bars.
The focus of the action was North Rhine-Westphalia. There were also searches in Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Berlin. On behalf of the Cologne public prosecutor’s office, customs investigators, federal and state police officers swarmed out on Wednesday morning.
37 properties nationwide were searched with judicial decisions. The investigation is on suspicion of the formation of a criminal organization. It is also about commercial money laundering and serious fraud.
Money from criminal offenses is said to have been collected at collection points in Germany. The money was then mainly used to buy gold, but also other precious metals. The gold was then exported from Germany to Turkey via its own logistics department and sold again there. In this way, the perpetrators had “clean” money with certificates of origin.
How much dirty money has been laundered in this way is still unclear, said a spokesman for the Cologne public prosecutor’s office. The investigators had previously obtained arrest warrants against the eight suspects and had 20 arrest orders for the allegedly illegally acquired assets in their pockets.
The value of the property and valuables confiscated on Wednesday was initially unclear. For tactical reasons, the investigators currently do not want to say which criminal offenses the laundered money came from. They were also covered with the question of how they discovered the systematic money laundering. The case has nothing to do with so-called hawala banking, in which money is illegally transferred to other countries without a banking license.
Here is the photo gallery: Raid against money laundering gangs in Keupstrasse in Cologne