Fighting financial crime

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Federal Cabinet Fighting financial crime

For the Federal Government, enforcing sanctions and taking forceful steps to fight financial crime and money laundering in particular are key priorities. The Federal Cabinet has passed a draft law, which includes setting up a new Federal Office for Fighting Financial Crime.

2 min reading time

A businessman with a briefcase full of euro and dollar banknotes.

There can be no future for financial crime in Germany, as money laundering, illegal funding streams and sanctions avoidance harm everyone.

Photo: imago/STPP

The package of laws adopted by the Federal Cabinet is aimed at a fundamental realignment of the structures and powers for fighting financial crime in Germany, repositioning structures and institutions and improving the methods and tools employed.

What will the restructure look like?

In future, financial investigations will take the “follow the money” approach, based on data and employing digital technology which is constantly being updated to target criminals and sanctioned individuals.

It will also combine the three key pillars of fighting money laundering: analysis, investigation and oversight.

·        A money laundering investigation hub will be set up within the Federal Office for Fighting Financial Crime (BBF), with the aim of making it possible to prosecute more effectively significant cases of international money laundering which are linked to Germany.

·        In addition, the Central Office for Financial Transaction Investigations (FIU) and the Central Office for Sanctions Enforcement (ZfS) will be transferred to the new BBF in mid-2025.

·         The new plans also include the creation of a Central Office for Money Laundering Oversight which is to develop uniform guidelines. This will ensure that supervisory authorities across the whole non-financial sector adopt a coordinated approach. 

New register of real estate transactions

The new office will also be responsible for a register of real estate transactions. It is aimed at giving the authorities full digital access to up-to-date real estate data when fighting money laundering and enforcing sanctions. The new laws also include a range of other regulations aimed at improving how Germany fights financial crime and money laundering.

The Fighting Financial Crime Act delivers on several priorities in the coalition agreement. At the same time, it also implements recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force’s assessment of Germany.

Further reforms

Through this package of reforms the Federal Government intends to deliver further measures aimed at fighting money laundering more effectively, such as a procedure for administrative asset investigations. The aim is to identify the “economic beneficiaries” of suspect assets or where the funds for such assets came from.

Within the bounds of constitutional law, there are plans to allow authorities to order the deprivation of property if it is not possible to identify the owner or beneficiary. The regulations on administrative asset investigations have a strong constitutional dimension. This is an innovation in German law, which is currently the subject of intensive investigation in government ministries. The aim of the Federal Government is to present a proposed set of regulations in the near future.