After the money laundering raid at Deutsche Bank, the background is now becoming known: the bank is said to have processed money transfers of almost 90 million for Rifaat Al-Assad for decades without reporting suspected money laundering in good time. The focus is on the business of the uncle of the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

This is reported by the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” in relation to the raid on Deutsche Bank at the end of April. The bank is said to have processed the transfers for Rifaat Al-Assad and companies associated with him or his family members. The public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt, the Federal Criminal Police Office and the financial supervisory authority Bafin are now investigating this suspicion. Rifaat Al-Assad is an uncle of the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, who lives in exile in Europe. He was sentenced to four years in prison by the Paris Court of Appeal in June 2021 for money laundering and misappropriation of Syrian state assets and has been back in Syria since September.

According to the research, Deutsche Bank negotiated the investigation itself: After Rifaat Al-Assad was first convicted in Paris in summer 2020, the bank searched its systems for any names and companies that could possibly be connected to Al-Assad, although neither he nor his family members were direct customers of the bank in Frankfurt. Deutsche Bank subsequently reported the relevant transactions, most of which are already statute-barred, to the authorities in spring 2021 – and thus put the investigators on the track.

The prosecutors are now investigating whether Deutsche Bank should have submitted suspected money laundering reports much earlier. According to the investigators, the bank should have become aware of this at least since 2017, when the international press reported on Rifaat Al-Assad, confiscations of property in Spain and the proceedings in France.

According to EU regulations, banks must immediately report any suspicious transaction to the authorities. However, this does not apply in the so-called correspondent banking system, in which large banks process money transfers for other financial institutions. As a rule, only the customer’s bank has to check the customer and report anything suspicious. In the ongoing proceedings, it therefore remains doubtful whether Deutsche Bank, as a correspondent bank, actually violated its obligations or even helped with the money laundering.