A Lebanese family in Germany is accused of stealing a giant gold coin from the Bode Museum in Berlin, according to a source. The Canadian "Big Maple Leaf" weighs 100 kg and is worth 4.3 million dollars.
The coin has a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II drawn by the Canadian artist Susanna Blunt on the front and a giant maple leaf on the back. In 2007, Guinness World Records named it the world's largest coin.
The German police detained three members of the clan. The authorities seized 77 houses, apartment blocks, and garden allotments which are worth 12 million dollars. The family, who is not named for legal reasons, is suspected of mafia-style crimes. The clan is identified only as "R".
The gold coin has not been found yet. Authorities fear that it has been melted and sold off. Investigators suspect that the family bought those properties with the proceeds of crime, including murder, drug-dealing, blackmail, and human trafficking.
According to a source, Berlin chief state prosecutor Jörg Raupach said that 16 people, all of whom are part of the family network, are being investigated on suspicion of money-laundering.
One member of the clan, Toufic R., was convicted of a bank robbery in 2014. An explosion nearly destroyed the entire bank. The amount that was stolen (10.7 million dollars) was never recovered.
This robbery initiated an investigation since the authorities noticed that one of Toufic's brothers, who was apparently living on welfare, was buying properties in Berlin.
"The difficult thing with these family structures is that you need leads. You need bank accounts where you see payments or withdrawals. It's like a giant puzzle," said Raupach.
Last year, Germany passed a law that allows the police to seize properties that were bought with ill-gotten gains.