More than 200,000 reports: record number of suspected money laundering cases

More than 200,000 reports: record number of suspected money laundering cases
More than 200,000 reports: record number of suspected money laundering cases

Status: 25.10.2021 10:39 a.m.

This year there is expected to be a new record for suspicious transaction reports on money laundering. The FIU responsible for collecting and evaluating the data has long been the subject of criticism.

In the current year there is expected to be a new high in reports of suspected money laundering, terrorist financing and sales tax fraud in Germany, reports the “Tagesspiegel”. “This year we will have well over 200,000 reports, which will be a new record,” the newspaper quoted the head of the Customs Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Christof Schulte.

Last year, with 144,000 suspicious activity reports, the previous record, around 25,000 reports were forwarded to the law enforcement authorities on the basis of the risk-based approach. In percentage terms, Schulte said it will develop further: “That shows that the work of the FIU is becoming more and more important.” The number of suspicious transaction reports has increased almost twentyfold since 2010.

What is the FIU doing?

As the central office for financial transaction investigations, the FIU is responsible for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The task is to receive, collect and evaluate reports on unusual or suspicious financial transactions.

Suspicious transaction reports are sent to the FIU by banks, insurance companies, casinos, brokers and jewelers, for example. If the analysis reveals indications of money laundering or terrorist financing, the FIU forwards this to the responsible law enforcement authorities. The FIU itself is not responsible for criminal investigations.

Critics accuse the FIU and, in some cases, the Ministry of Finance of insufficient efficiency or lack of consistency in the fight against money laundering.

Criticism from the judicial authorities

A few weeks ago the “Spiegel” shared a survey with the Bavarian Broadcasting revealed that the judicial authorities of the countries are dissatisfied with the money laundering special unit of the customs, FIU. Suspicious transaction reports would be forwarded to the investigative authorities too late, it said, among other things.

Bavarian judicial authorities complained, for example, that the authority passed on “often (very) old money laundering reports” to the investigating authorities. Some of the reports are already several years old and successful investigations are no longer possible.

Finance Minister Scholz is responsible

Within the federal government, the Federal Ministry of Finance, which is currently still subordinate to Olaf Scholz (SPD), has legal supervision of the FIU, which in turn is assigned to customs.

Shortly before the federal election, investigators from Osnabrück had partially searched the finance and justice ministry in Berlin. The background was a suspicion of thwarting punishment in the office against those responsible at the FIU. FIU employees were accused of failing to forward information about money laundering to investigative authorities.

The topic of money laundering is also addressed in the exploratory paper of the parties for a possible traffic light coalition in the federal government. Accordingly, the fight against tax evasion, money laundering and tax avoidance should be intensified, it is said.

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