Germany announces new authority in major shake-up of anti-money laundering and sanctions control efforts

Germany plans to create a national financial crime authority with the aim of effectively fighting white-collar crime, vigorously enforcing sanctions and overcoming its reputation as a money-laundering hub.

A central element of the plan is to bundle the most important anti-money laundering and sanctions control competencies – currently dispersed across more than 300 financial crime agencies – under the umbrella of the new federal authority.

A statement issued by the finance ministry says it will also train the best financial investigators, and drive forward digitalisation and connectivity.

Money-laundering paradise

“Germany must overcome its reputation as a money-laundering paradise,” German finance minister Christian Lindner said as he presented the key points of the plan.

“We are not afraid to take bold and decisive action. We will create strong and effective structures to make sure that honest players are protected from those who don’t stick to the rules,” he added.

Umbrella body

Core competencies will be bundled under the umbrella of a new authority called the Higher Federal Authority for Combating Financial Crime (BBF). It will investigate large and complex financial crimes, especially those involving international money laundering.

It will also assume operational responsibility for implementing sanctions; analysis of suspicious transaction reports, and the coordination of supervisory activities in the non-financial sector.

Investigator training

Highly qualified financial investigators will be trained in order to build and expand expertise in fighting financial crime according to the finance ministry.

It says a set of particularly relevant training courses will form the basis for this initiative and the course portfolio will be expanded and further developed with the help of relevant experts.

Digitalisation and beneficial ownership

Germany’s registers will be digitally linked so that ownership structures and beneficial ownership information can be efficiently checked, particularly in the context of investigations and the enforcement of sanctions, a finance ministry statement says.

It adds that until this type of comprehensive linking can be implemented, interim solutions should be adopted that swiftly provide direct added value.

Addressing FATF concerns

The new authority will be keen to address recent criticism from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that Germany is not doing enough to tackle money laundering.

The FATF says the world’s fourth largest economy is not implementing reforms to its anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism regime and prosecuting very few for money laundering (Trade-based Financial Crime, 29 August 2022).

Additional information on the German finance ministry’s plans to overhaul its anti-money money laundering and sanctions enforcement efforts can be found here.

 

 



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