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Germany searches homes, asset managers in nationwide tax evasion raid

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Frankfurt public prosecutors said they led a nationwide raid on eight homes and six asset managers on Wednesday as part of an investigation into wealthy individuals suspected of tax evasion.

The action, which involved around 110 investigators, was a follow-up on a police raid last November of Deutsche Bank over money laundering allegations linked to the “Panama Papers”.

Frankfurt prosecutors said they could refrain from searching 14 banks and four tax advisors after they voluntarily handed over evidence.

Authorities seized extensive documents, digital data, devices and a handgun for which one of the accused had no permission to possess. Raids lasted until around 7 p.m., a spokesman said.

The eight people in the crosshairs of the authorities are said to have founded companies in tax havens with the help of a former subsidiary of Deutsche Bank in the British Virgin Islands to hide capital gains from the German tax authorities and to evade taxes.

The investigations are not directed at Deutsche Bank, but at private individuals, Deutsche Bank said in a statement on Wednesday. The bank was cooperating, and its offices were not searched, the lender added.

Wednesday’s raid enlisted police and tax authorities in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Duesseldorf.

The asset management companies involved are based in Hamburg, while the tax advisers are located in Hamburg, Munich and elsewhere.

Prosecutors did not name the businesses and individuals involved.

(Reporting by Andreas Framke and Tom Sims; Editing by Michelle Martin)

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