Authorities seize classic cars, 22kg of gold, revolver and valuable stamps in estimated €3.8m money laundering case

Two people were arrested in Frankfurt and Brussels in a money laundering case worth around at least €3.8 million involving goods found on property in Luxembourg and Saarland, German investigators said on Tuesday.

Investigators of the Customs Investigation Office Frankfurt and the Saarland Police Headquarters carried out two arrest warrants and searched a total of 12 residential and business premises in Saarbrücken and Luxembourg on 10 and 12 November, the authorities said in a press release.

Two high-priced classic cars as well as three other vehicles from well-known manufacturers with a total value of several hundred thousand euros, around 22 kilograms of gold, 340 silver coins, a revolver with 50 pieces of ammunition, 13 boxes with valuable stamps and extensive business documents were seized, German investigators said.   

"We assume that the scope of the accused money laundering acts [..] amounts to at least €3.8 million. Further investigations and evaluations will show whether this figure [...] will have to be revised upwards many times over," said the head of the Customs Investigation Office Frankfurt am Main, Cosima Schmidt.

"In connection with this affair, I can confirm that there were searches here in Luxembourg last week" as part of a European Investigation Order from Germany, Henri Eippers, spokesman for Luxembourg's prosecution said in an email on Tuesday, adding that it is not a national case and is in Germany's hands.

Residences and offices of two companies were searched in Luxembourg by the Customs Investigation Office Frankfurt am Main, spokeswoman Carina Orth said in an email on Wednesday.  

The starting point of the investigations, which have been conducted since 2019 under the direction of the Saarbrücken public prosecutor's office, was a suspicious money laundering report filed by Germany's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the central customs office for investigating suspicious financial transactions.

The alleged perpetrators are accused of gang-related trafficking in drugs and doping substances and related money laundering. According to the investigations so far, the two main suspects, aged 62 and 49, generated income from the operation of various online shops, through which they sold illegal prescription drugs and doping substances on a large scale in Austria and other European countries. 

They are also suspected of having subsequently transferred the illegally gained assets into their own international company network. This was done to try to cover up the illegal income and conceal the origin of the incriminated assets, the prosecutors said.

The two main suspects were arrested at Frankfurt am Main and Brussels airports by a special unit of the Saarland police headquarters and by Belgian authorities during their attempted departure. National and European arrest warrants had been issued against them.

Friday, November 19, 2021