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EU/Europe, Financial Services

Germany introduces sweeping, simplified new AML laws ‘with bite’ to ‘drain dirty money flows faster’

Image: Olaf Kosinsky (kosinsky.eu)

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

GERMANY is introducing sweeping new anti-money laundering laws – which will remove layers of complexity and replace them with simpler rules.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (pictured) praised the revamp, saying the fight against money laundering has been given “more bite.”

Before the law’s approval, there was a specific list of predetermined offences in Germany that were relevant to AML investigations. “In future, every crime can be a predicate offence to money laundering,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

“With the new rules, the fight against money laundering gets even more bite,” said Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. “We can drain dirty money flows faster and more effectively. This protects citizens from criminal activities.”

He added that the German government was eager to ramp up the fight against money laundering at the EU level by “expanding and strengthening the rules, supervision and exchange of information.”

His comments come just weeks after Germany faced a grilling in the European Parliament for its alleged lack of oversight in the long-running Wirecard financial scandal.

At the time, Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth told Parliament that it was important not to “point the finger at supervisory authorities,” in the aftermath of the scandal, which exposed multi-billion-euro irregularities in the accounts of the now-insolvent payment processing company.

His comments were met with sceptic criticism by MEPs.

German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht highlighted the planned benefits of the new AML law, saying “We want to make it much easier for public prosecutors and courts to prove money laundering and hold perpetrators accountable. Organized crime and serious economic crimes must be pursued with utmost rigour.”

Because the broader regulations allow any crime to be a ‘predicate offence’ to money laundering, the Finance Ministry expects AML to surface in the legal system much more frequently than before.

“If assets are obtained and concealed through criminal offences, it is money laundering – regardless of whether the predecessor offences are drugs trafficking, extortion, human trafficking, fraud or breach of trust,” Lambrecht said.

Meanwhile, the law also re-enforced the system of penalties for laundering – including prison sentences of up to ten years in serious cases – and stressed the importance of authorities’ investigative powers such as surveillance of communications, where applicable.

The draft law was drawn up as a combined effort between the German cabinet and Finance Ministry. It also implements a 2018 AML directive issued by the EU. 

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