Police raid properties in search for Schneider clues: Rumours of high-level retribution at Deutsche Bank grow

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GERMAN police raided nine locations yesterday in their search for evidence on the activities of the fugitive tycoon, Jurgen Schneider.

Deutsche Bank, the main creditor to Mr Schneider's collapsed property and construction empire, which has debts of DM5bn ( pounds 2bn), conceded that it would take years to repair what it called the severe damage to banking credibility caused by the crisis.

Rumours also grew that the Schneider fiasco may claim a victim at the top levels of Deutsche, Germany's biggest bank. Hilmar Kopper, Deutsche's chief executive, is said to be furious at the renewed storm of negative publicity blasting the bank so soon after the allegations of mismanagement and incompetence over the near-collapse of Metallgesellschaft, one of the country's leading industrial companies.

The Frankfurt public prosecutors' office said yesterday's police raids were directed at finding business and banking documents that might support suspicions of fraud in the financing of an exclusive shopping arcade in central Frankfurt developed by the Schneider group.

The nine properties, both business and private, involved some of Mr Schneider's relatives and his accountant. The whereabouts of Mr Schneider and his wife, who jointly controlled the secretive property group, were still unknown yesterday.