FIU scrutinizes and sorts reports of suspected money laundering – economy

HomeEconomyEconomic and Financial Policy23. September 2021, 6:54 p.m.

Special unit: how does the FIU work?

The special unit of the customs criminal police office is supposed to track down money laundering. Your task is to forward the relevant suspicious activity reports to the state criminal investigation offices.

By Markus Zydra, Frankfurt

The Financial Intelligence Unit, or FIU for short, is the central collection point in Germany for reports of suspected money laundering. In 2020, a total of 144,000 reports were received there. The nearly 400 employees of the FIU are supposed to sift through this group. Software is used for this. It is mainly the banks that report – for example if they suspect a transfer, for example because of the amount of the amount or the country of destination. The bank can stop the payment process for a maximum of three days. During this time, the FIU must decide whether or not to forward the case to the responsible National Criminal Police Office. If law enforcement investigates suspicion of money laundering or terrorist financing, payment may be suspended for longer. Often, banks do not report their suspicions until the transfer has been completed. In addition to the financial industry, real estate agents, casinos, notaries, lawyers, jewelers, precious metal dealers, and car dealerships should report if they suspect a business. This obligation is governed by the law on money laundering. The FIU was created in 2001 after the terrorist attacks in New York under pressure from the United States. The authority was initially located at the Federal Office of Criminal Police and was subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Under pressure from former Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), the anti-money laundering authority was relocated to non-specialized customs in 2017 – against resistance from many experts. The German FIU is a member of the Egmont group. The committee with 167 participating FIUs coordinates the international exchange of information on money laundering cases.

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