Many citizens want the next federal government to fight more decisively against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. After all, criminal gangs in Germany launder around 100 billion euros each year of their dirty sales from prostitution, drug trafficking and arms trafficking. In addition, the treasure escapes 14 billion euros each year thanks to illegal sales tax rides. Executives have known the quantitative costs of this financial crime for over 20 years. The accumulated damage runs into the trillions. It is a number with twelve zeros. The sum roughly corresponds to the German national debt.
However, the fight against money laundering does not hold a prominent place in the electoral manifestos of German parties. Above all, the parties still in power SPD and CDU lack teeth in their proposals. In the FDP election manifesto, the problem of money laundering receives no attention.
Illegal and obscure financial flows are the result and breeding ground for serious crimes. It is only when a drug lord or corrupt politician succeeds in squeezing crooked money into the ether of the financial system that he can use the loot “legally”. The fight against opaque financial transactions is therefore the most effective weapon against crime itself and against the infiltration and corruption of our society.
Nonetheless, it required a prosecution from Osnabrück, who presented themselves to the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Federal Ministry of Finance with a search warrant, in order to bring the important topic to the general public shortly before the federal elections. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) – where suspicious money laundering transaction reports are filtered – is suspected of frustrating criminal offenses. Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) exercises legal oversight of the FIU. The authority has been criticized since it passed from the Federal Criminal Police Office to customs. Scholz says the fight against money laundering has improved under his leadership. But this statement sounds ludicrous.
The Federal Audit Office has recently made it clear that the FIU is not fulfilling its legal mandate, in particular its filter function. Federal and state governments have neglected to give the authority significant rights of access to police and tax data of potential suspects. Scholz made mistakes in the fight against money laundering. He also spoke out against the ban on cash payments in real estate transactions. They are certainly just criminals who would pay their condominiums in cash.
Dirty money from criminals undermines the rule of law
Money laundering is a criminal offense and its fight has been part of European law since 1991. In 2012, the federal government headed by CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel had to admit in an infringement procedure before the European Commission that at that time it had not even fully implemented the first European directive of 1991. In Germany, criminals can still launder money with almost no problem. Federal state authorities are responsible for controlling real estate markets, casinos, jewelers and car dealerships. You will need to ensure that these so-called “obligated parties” report suspicious transactions to the FIU. But the supervisory authorities are understaffed. On average, an obligated party has to count with an audit every 200 years, stressed the Federal Audit Office. Italy’s leading anti-Mafia prosecutors have been calling Germany a decade-long money laundering paradise and warning that the Mafia will infiltrate Germany. German government politicians think: Mafia non esiste.
One thing is certain: dirty money from criminals undermines the rule of law. Honest citizens bear the damage. The next federal government must prioritize the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. An effective instrument would be the resolute application of the “reversal of the burden of proof”: the judiciary should confiscate suspicious tangible or monetary assets, unless the owner can fully prove the legal origin of the money. In Italy, this has been the rule in the fight against the Mafia since 1983 – in Germany the absolute exception.