The German authorities are investigating several reports of suspected money laundering at Grenke AG, the Düsseldorf-based finance newspaper Handelsblatt has reported.
An investigation by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a money-laundering unit of the German customs authority, is understood to include investment fraud, insider trading and market manipulation, the newspaper reported.
The probe of the Baden-Baden-based leasing company has come about in response to a question about Grenke AG raised through a parliamentary process of the Bundestag.
Grenke AG, a listed company on the Deutsche Borse SDAX, is defending itself against allegations of accounting irregularities raised last month by Viceroy Research.
Viceroy is a US-based company run by British investor Fraser Perring which released a report on 14 September accusing Grenke of fraud and accounting falsification.
As a short-seller, Perring stands to gain from shares in Grenke AG selling at a loss.
Grenke AG shares have lost around 40% of their value since the report was released.
Grenke has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing and accounting falsification.
Grenke boss Antje Leminsky said in a recent press release: “We will continue to do everything we can to refute the unjustified allegations.”
The Handelsblatt report said that:
“The FIU has currently identified eight suspicious transaction reports that could be connected with the allegations currently being made against companies in the Grenke Group of companies,” explains the Federal Ministry of Finance in response to a written request from the financial policy spokeswoman for the Green parliamentary group, Lisa Paus. Whether there is such a connection can currently “not yet be answered conclusively”.
The report also said:
“The ministry further stated: “Five of the eight reports, all of which were received before the allegations against Grenke AG became known, were submitted directly to the law enforcement authorities as a result of the initial analysis.” The remaining three reports are being analyzed by the FIU ministry further. “New findings” are also incorporated.
The financial regulator BaFin has also started a special audit of the company and Grenke itself has instituted a number of internal changes, including announcing its own investigation, alongside changes to personnel at the board level, in a bid to clear its name.