Germany confiscates 77 properties owned by Lebanese family

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German authorities have seized dozens of apartments and houses they claim are owned by one of the city's Arab crime networks.

A new law allows police to confiscate property bought with ill-gotten gains according to Deutsche Welle.

Berlin's state prosecutors have claimed they have made a major sweep against one of the large organized crime families in the German capital: a"clan" of Arab-Lebanese origin, known simply by their initial R., to comply with German privacy law, the site added.

Authorities confiscated some 77 properties, worth an estimated €9.3 million ($10.8 million).

At a press conference on Thursday, Berlin chief state prosecutor Jörg Raupach said that 16 people were being investigated on suspicion of money-laundering, all of whom were part of the R. family network. None of them had been arrested yet.

The sweep came after financial crime investigators had searched 13 apartments and commercial properties last Friday, according to DW.

Berlin's state police are reported to have identified dozens of properties belonging to the family, including some blocks of flats, single houses and apartments, and even allotments.

The seizure of property was the latest development in a four-year investigation originally triggered by a 2014 bank robbery in Berlin's Mariendorf district, during which an explosion nearly destroyed an entire branch of a Sparkasse bank, and €9.16 million was stolen.

According to the site, one member of the R. family, Toufic R., was convicted of the robbery, but the money was never recovered. However, investigators noticed subsequently that one of Toufic's R.'s brothers was buying property around the city, even though he was apparently living on state benefits.

Members of the R. family have also been connected to other spectacular robberies in Berlin in recent years. Last year, four members of the network, aged between 18 and 20, were arrested on suspicion of stealing a 100-kilo, €3.7-million Canadian gold coin from the city's Bode Museum in March 2017, though no charges have yet been filed, and the men were subsequently released. The coin was never recovered.

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