Prosecutors in Germany raided on Thursday the finance and justice ministries to investigate the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
Moreover, the raid exposed Germany’s failures in dealing with financial crimes.
The investigation targeting the governmental anti-money laundering agency is to decide whether the FIU had orders to ignore alerts from banks about suspicious payments to Africa.
The Financial Intelligence Unit is an agency of the Ministry of Finance under the Social Democratic chancellor candidate, Olaf Scholz.
Evidently, the raid came at a critical time for Scholz, whose opinion polls show a good chance of becoming the next German chancellor in Germany.
The German financial regulator, Bafin, is also under the Ministry of Finance, alongside the FIU.
Both agencies have been heavily criticized for failing to discover irregularities at Wirecard. Opposition officials quickly criticized Scholz.
Wirecard is a payment company that collapsed in the biggest post-war fraud in the country.
Fabio De Masi said, “We need financial police with criminal expertise. Germany is a paradise for criminals.”
The finance ministry said it increased the FIU staff from 165 to +460 and provided it with more technical resources.
Furthermore, it provided support for the investigation, and it was not directly going for its employees.
The investigation came at a pivotal period, as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is reviewing Germany’s anti-money laundering efforts.
The FIU has suffered to keep up with thousands of alerts it receives about shady money transfers, according to specialists.
Public prosecutors’ spokesperson said they launched the probe after receiving reports that the FIU had turned a blind eye over suspect transactions.
Specifically, The suspect transactions are valued in millions of euros, mostly to Africa, between 2018 and 2020.
He added they searched the ministries to know whether the unit had orders to discard the suspect transactions.
The prosecutors said they were investigating the drastic drop in suspicious reports since the FIU assumed money laundering in 2017.
Additionally, the previous searches of the FIU revealed extensive communication with the two ministries.