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Commerzbank Raided in German Tax Probe Over Life Insurance

Commerzbank AG Headquarters
The lender isn’t a suspect and is cooperating with the authorities, Nils Happich, a spokesman for Commerzbank, said in an e-mailed statement today. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Commerzbank AG offices in Germany were raided by prosecutors investigating whether life insurance policies were used to evade tax.

The lender isn’t a suspect and is cooperating with the authorities, Nils Happich, a spokesman for Commerzbank, said in an e-mailed statement today. Prosecutors in Bochum, Germany are investigating managers and staff of a non-German life insurance company that they didn’t identify, according to a statement on their website.

The suspects may have “helped German investors to evade tax since 2006 in more than 200 cases,” according to the prosecutors’ statement. “They may have sold life insurance that were veiled asset-management agreements.”

Commerzbank dropped as much as 3.5 percent to 10.51 euros in Frankfurt, the biggest decline in almost three weeks, valuing the firm at 12 billion euros ($16.3 billion). The Bloomberg Europe Banks & Financial Services Index fell 1.2 percent.

Prosecutors in Bochum have also led investigations targeting Germans who hid money in bank accounts in Liechtenstein and Switzerland to evade income tax. Last year, they raided homes of UBS AG clients in Germany as part of the probe.

The tax evaded amounted to several hundred million euros, Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper reported earlier today, citing finance industry officials it didn’t identify.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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