EU wants to declare war on money laundering

Perhaps in the near future Germany will no longer be a money laundering paradise than it is today. An estimated 100 billion euros are laundered here every year, and the real estate sector in particular attracts criminal assets. On Tuesday, however, the European Commission published a new legislative package to combat this criminal branch. This is the first time that the anti-money laundering rules are to be formulated as an EU regulation and thus directly applicable law. So far, the EU had only issued framework rules that the member states were supposed to transpose into national law. But by no means all have done that, which is why the crime has always moved to where the rules were weakest.

As in previous versions, the package also contains the controversial proposal in Germany for a cash limit of 10,000 euros. Such an upper limit already exists in 18 out of 27 Member States. It is lowest in Greece at 500 euros and highest in Croatia at 15,000 euros. Germany, on the other hand, is still one of the countries in which there is no upper limit. And whether this will actually be decided depends on the further deliberations in the European Parliament and among the member states. Some of them still have great reservations.

Others welcome the EU’s long-overdue initiative. For example, Fabio De Masi, deputy chairman and financial policy spokesman for the Left Party’s parliamentary group in the Bundestag, says: “A cash limit makes sense. It must be possible to make everyday purchases anonymously. It is absurd, however, that entire properties in Germany can still be paid for in cash out of a suitcase instead of through a notary’s account. “

Andreas Engels, co-managing director of one of the leading providers of digital solutions in the field of money laundering prevention, is also pleased with the legislative package. But he also points out: “The fight against money laundering must become more effective and efficient. That means: more digital. ”

Digital products, such as KYC apps for identifying and evaluating customer relationships, make money laundering prevention much easier than before, continued Engels. KYC stands for Know Your Customer, the identification of which includes extensive research.

What is remarkable about the EU initiative, however, is that trade in goods should not be covered by the new rules. Critics warn that the related industries in particular, such as the motor vehicle or antiques trade, are often the target of money launderers. “In addition, more must be done in the money laundering paradise of Germany so that a European authority can function properly at all,” emphasizes De Masi from the Left Party. In his opinion, property registers linked across Europe and a transparency register with lower threshold values ​​for entry are also needed. “And the analysis of suspected money laundering reports by the Financial Intelligence Unit should not take place without the criminal investigation offices,” adds the left-wing financial expert.

The Left has been criticizing for years that the money laundering supervision in the financial sector by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) is problematic. In the supervision of the non-financial sector – such as notaries, real estate agents or auditors – there is also an enforcement deficit. And the Financial Intelligence Unit has not yet done justice to its mandate.

The left has long been calling for corporate criminal law against criminal corporations and for more staff in the law enforcement authorities.

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