Gerhard Schick, 49, is president of the citizens’ movement “Finanzwende”. The former member of the Bundestag from Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen describes in an interview the serious shortcomings of the fight against money laundering in Germany.
SZ: The fight against money laundering occupies little place in the party programs for election to the Bundestag. Germany underestimates the danger?
Gerhard Schick: Over the past two or three years the subject has become more prominent, but given the great danger of organized crime taking hold in Germany, far too little is being done politically in the fight against money laundering .
What concrete omissions do you accuse Angela Merkel’s (CDU) federal government of not fighting money laundering?
It has implemented European and international directives, but has not developed a German strategy against money laundering. The Wirecard affair has shown that federal and state powers in the area of control must be reorganized. State authorities lack qualified personnel to prevent cases like Wirecard in the future. The asset collection instrument is only used selectively. This is why Germany is attractive for money laundering, criminals have little to fear from the state.
The latest reports from the European Court of Auditors and the Federal Court of Auditors show that the fight against money laundering is still not working.
It must be a wake-up call. If the state does not follow its own rules, do not be surprised when criminals applaud. I do not understand why the grand coalition has done so little over the past eight years. Which lobby is campaigning for money laundering? It is hardly true that the Mexican mafia is lobbying the federal government. There must certainly be a great social interest in stealing money from criminals.
But the policy hardly does anything, why?
There seems to be a great fear of transparency among many companies and high net worth individuals, as can be seen, for example, in the strong resistance to the introduction of the transparency register. Finally, it should be understood that the reluctance to act against money laundering facilitates the task of criminal structures. Criminals are now settling in Germany in the same way as in Colombia and southern Italy, starting with the economy. It is extremely dangerous.
Should we allow the State to know everything in order to fight criminals effectively?
You have to differentiate yourself. People should still be able to pay normal daily amounts anonymously. But we need controls where the big money goes. Central banks, too, must do more than before, since all transfers are made through their TARGET2 system.
In Germany, you can still pay for real estate in cash. What does Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) say that he has done nothing about this?
It’s completely incomprehensible to me. If someone buys a property with a suitcase full of cash, then this process can’t really have anything other than a criminal record. To stop this, you don’t need to get rid of the cash. But the upper limits make sense, real estate transactions should always be done through trust accounts held by notaries.