Prosecutors search Commerzbank in tax evasion probe

Tue Dec 3, 2013 12:00pm EST
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By Jonathan Gould and Andreas Kröner

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German prosecutors searched Commerzbank offices on Tuesday, looking for evidence that a foreign life insurance company may have helped German investors evade taxes.

State prosecutors in Bochum said around 270 tax officials searched the bank's headquarters and branches across Germany, looking into the sale of wealth management products "disguised" as tax-efficient life insurance policies.

"The aim was to enable clients to avoid tax on investment income," the prosecutors said in a statement.

The raids are the latest in a series by German prosecutors investigating tax evasion.

In November last year, Unicredit unit HVB and the German unit of Swiss lender UBS were searched.

Germany's largest bank Deutsche Bank was also the subject of raids one year ago as part of an investigation into tax evasion, money laundering and obstruction of justice linked to trade in carbon permits.

Commerzbank said on Tuesday that its offices were searched as part of the investigation and said it was cooperating fully with authorities.

"The investigations are not directed at the bank but at individual employees at another financial services provider," a Commerzbank spokesman said, declining to give further detail.   Continued...

Workers install boards to protect a branch of German Commerzbank next to the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt May 29, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski