Interior Minister Faeser wants to intensify the fight against money laundering
Berlin Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faser (SPD) has announced a tougher approach to the fight against organized crime. “I support the introduction of a general cash limit of 10,000 euros,” said Faeser of “Bild am Sonntag”. “This reduces the risk of criminals concealing assets.” In her view, a 30,000-euro cash purchase of jewelry or watches should soon be a thing of the past.
According to Faeser, it is about “smashing criminal structures and consistently depriving them of criminal income”. Ownership structures would have to become more transparent, property owners would have to be easier to identify. The same applies to cash transfers.
With her advance Faeser ties in with the coalition agreement between the SPD, FDP and Greens. However, only a “ban on the purchase of real estate with cash” is agreed there – this point is undisputed in the coalition. The situation is different with a general cash limit. Above all, she sees that FDP skeptical. But the pressure to make progress here is increasing.
The Federal Ministry of Finance announced that there have long been “very clear majorities” in the EU Parliament and among the EU states in favor of an upper cash limit. Only the height is still disputed. Nevertheless, there is FDP the concern that a general upper limit for cash could gradually be pushed further and further back through further reductions, which would then also affect private citizens, it said.
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While there is a cash limit in many other European countries, in Germany large sums can also be paid in cash. Last year, the EU Commission had uniform Europe-wide regulations to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and advocated a cash limit of 10,000 euros. According to reports, the topic is on the agenda of the Council of the EU states at the beginning of December.
CSU rejects cash cap
The cash issue has been controversial in the past. Former Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) had proposed an upper limit of 10,000 euros, but then refrained from doing so because of public protest.
Even now, the Union is partially opposed to such a measure. The Parliamentary Secretary of the CSU in the Bundestag, Stefan Müller, told the Handelsblatt: “In Germany we have strict and effective proof obligations if someone wants to pay larger amounts in cash. That’s quite sufficient.” Experiences with cash caps in other European countries also show that these are no more effective than strict verification requirements.
Bavaria’s Finance Minister Albert Füracker (CSU) spoke of a disproportionate measure. “The compulsion to pay digitally does not automatically lead to less crime – this is also shown by cybercrime, which, in case of doubt, does not require any cash at all,” said Füracker on Sunday in Munich.
>> Read also: Financial Supervisor Birgit Rodolphe – “Combating money laundering is like raising children”
From the CDU at least there is approval for a ban on cash payments for real estate purchases. “I think the restriction of cash payments for certain transactions, such as real estate transactions, is a sensible measure,” said the domestic policy spokesman for the Union parliamentary group, Alexander Throm (CDU), the Handelsblatt. However, the interior minister stopped halfway in the fight against money laundering and the financing of extremism.
“It would be even more important to grant the investigative authorities better powers to provide information and to inspect financial transactions in order to more effectively investigate criminal flows of money in organized crime or in extremist organizations,” emphasized Throm.
The traffic light coalition is ready for further measures. The coalition agreement states that the recommendations of the OECD The international working group against money laundering, the so-called Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is to be transposed into German law “quickly” where necessary.
‘Sanctions Enforcement Act’ targets oligarchs
The money laundering fighters had submitted a test report on Germany in June. It does praise some of the tightening of the law in recent years. “However, it is not clear that this commitment at the operational level has yielded full results.”
In certain areas the FATF experts still consider significant improvements to be necessary. This includes, for example, effective supervision of the private sector, especially the non-financial sector. Access to information on beneficial ownership should also be improved. In addition, money laundering investigations and prosecutions should be prioritized. The experts also suggest that the federal government should examine the introduction of a cash limit.
In their Germany report, the FATF auditors acknowledge that Germans have a “strong social and historical bond” with cash. Nevertheless, the introduction of an upper limit is necessary.
Last came in connection with the sanctions against Russia movement on the subject – but only in relation to real estate purchases. The Federal Ministries of Finance and Economics recently introduced a second “Sanctions Enforcement Act”. Accordingly, there should be a ban on real estate purchases with cash, gold or cryptocurrencies. “The regulation serves to prevent money laundering by avoiding anonymous transactions,” says a paper by the two ministries.
Federal Minister of Finance As a consequence of the recommendations, Christian Lindner (FDP) is also planning to set up a Federal Financial Criminal Police Office. Germany should “no longer be a paradise for money laundering,” said Lindner. There are hardly any investigative successes in large, complex cases. But not only the small fish should be caught. “To do this, we will follow the money trail.”
More: How Lindner wants to catch big money launderers with a new authority