German police raid suspected hawala banking ring
20 Nov 2019

German authorities have carried out a raid on an organized international network suspected of illegally transferring millions of euros to Turkey.

Police searched about 60 apartments and offices in Tuesday’s early-morning raids across Germany. Officers say 27 people are suspected of being involved in the scheme; six arrest warrants have been issued.

It is unclear whether the money being transferred was from illegal sources: In many cases, the hawala system is simply used by migrants who want to send money back to their country of origin, but police said this system was particularly sophisticated.

Investigators estimate that money transferred through the network reached up to €1 million ($1.11 million) each day and over €200 million in total.

The raids took place mostly at jewelers, precious metal companies and private apartments from 6 a.m. (0500 UTC), with most of the locations in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung and the public broadcasters WDR and NDR. Raids also took place in Hesse, Berlin and in the Netherlands, which borders North Rhine-Westphalia.

German police taking part in the operation numbered 850. Officers believe that the primary suspects come from the western city of Duisburg and worked in the precious metals trade.

The operation was the result of a yearlong investigation led by a special division of the state criminal investigations office. The suspects are accused of building up an informal network of bank accounts in EU countries and Turkey to evade detection of money transfers.

What is hawala?

“Hawala” is Arabic for “transfer.” Such systems originated in India and the Middle East, where they were used for centuries. China also developed a similar system.

By Kate Martyr and Ben Knight, Deutsche Welle, 19 November 2019

Read more at Deutsche Welle

Photo: PolizeiBerlin [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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