Law & Financial Order

BaFin President Felix Hufeld and his team of financial regulators are looking a lot like CSI investigators.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s financial regulator BaFin was traditionally concerned with systemic stability. But now it is cracking down hard on bad behavior by banks.

  • Facts


    • BaFin is Germany’s official financial regulatory body, with offices in Bonn and Frankfurt that employ about 2,500 people.
    • It has a database of the accounts and account-holders for every German bank.
    • Effectively a law enforcement agency, it has powers to initiate legal action and to intervene in the governance of individual banks.
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There’s a telling photograph in the annual report of BaFin, Germany’s top financial regulator. It shows BaFin President Felix Hufeld and his four executive directors in a pose straight out of the American TV series CSI, a show about hardcore forensic investigators.

Indeed, these days BaFin’s work does look increasingly like police work as it energetically tackles a whole series of scandals in the banking industry, from offshore shell companies to dubious dividend-stripping deals.

First and foremost, BaFin, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, is probing the revelations of the Panama Papers, the name given to recent leaks about dubious offshore deals published by an international network of journalists. They named 13 German banks that have dealings with Mossack Fonseca, the now notorious Panamanian legal firm at the heart of the revelations. Nine of the banks have admitted to BaFin that they had business dealings in Panama.

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