11 October 2017

By David Martin, Deutsche Welle

Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has carried out its first investigation after purchasing the so-called Panama Papers from an anonymous informant earlier this year.

According to German media, federal officers seized two million euros ($2.35 million) from an old slush fund owned by industrial giant Siemens.

The money was reportedly embezzled into Germany from South America by a former company manager, Hans-Joachim Kohlsdorf.

A decade ago, the public prosecutor’s office in Munich found that Siemens had bribed officials and governments the world over in exchange for lucrative contracts.

The seized funds, which were taken from two Commerzbank branches in Frankfurt and Hamburg, are thought to be linked to the company’s system of bribes.

Kohlsdorf, who for decades held several important positions at Siemens, was also targeted by investigators then.

But charges against him were dismissed due to a lack of evidence that he had ever paid a bribe himself. He currently lives in Mexico, and it remains unclear whether Germany will seek his extradition.

BKA’s Panama Papers commission

In July, the BKA agreed to pay five million euros to purchase the Panama Papers, a trove of documents stolen from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca implicating individuals stashing their wealth in offshore tax havens.

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