German bank legally launders €51 million after cash notes damaged in floods

Euro banknotes damaged in the flood disaster are dried in a standard tumble dryer at the Bundesbank. Credit: AP Images

A German bank has started a major money laundering operation in an attempt to recover more than €50 million in damaged currency, following flash floods.

More than 180 people died in Germany and hundreds more were injured in the July floods, which also claimed lives in neighbouring Belgium. Heavy rainfall turned small streams into raging torrents, sweeping away houses, bridges and cars.

Soaked and mouldy euro banknotes are waiting to be dried at the Bundesbank in Mainz, Germany Credit: AP Images

The Bundesbank says both individuals and banks have been handing in notes that were soaked in the floods in the western part of the country.

The bank said it is now working to clean and count the notes that have been damaged by oil, sewage and mud - buying specialist dryers to deal with the influx of dirty money. If not cleaned quickly the notes can clump together and become as hard as concrete.

A woman throws away flood damaged rubbish in the centre of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, in July 2021. Credit: AP Images

Once handed in, the damaged notes are dried, flattened out, verified and counted. Owners are then refunded without charge.

The Bundesbank also said the centre usually receives damaged bills to the tune of 40 million euros per year. This year, it received 51 million euros' worth of notes.