Editorial

New Gestapo and White-collar crimes

Written by The Frontier Post

During recent days German prosecutors have searched the offices of the finance and justice ministries in Berlin and seized documents related to a probe into possible obstruction of justice by a government agency tasked with tackling money laundering. According to reports, the German Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a part of the Finance Ministry, has been under investigation since last year. The agency was suspected of not forwarding the bank’s reports of possible money laundering in the millions of euros to law enforcement agents for further probe. As said, the probe was initiated after sketchy payments of more than €1 million (around $1.18 million) to Africa in 2018. At that time, the bank warned the FIU that the money could’ve been linked to trafficking of arms and drugs as well as financing of terrorism. The agency took note of the information but did not pass it on to the police and the justice ministry. According to reports, the anti-money laundering efforts hampered in the country after FIU was assigned the task in 2017.

The German government constituted an independent Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) under the Minister of Finance, while separating the previous setup from law enforcement Police during 2017. The critics were less hopeful of its effectiveness under the new setup. There were continuous complaints of a massive backlog of thousands of suspicious activity reports (SARs) during recent years. According to reports, the money laundering cases had jumped by 50% during 2019 and the real estate’s market was identified as the main source of money laundering in Germany. According to a report of Anti-corruption group transparency international, about $ 34 billion funds were funneled into the German real estate market during 2017. The FIU Chief Christof Schelute, described the prosecution as a weak area of anti-money laundering efforts of Germany. Germany remained under scrutiny of FATF due to loopholes in legislative and prosecution mechanisms during past years. The German parliament has passed legislation on anti-money laundering laws during the recent past. However, the Gestapo’s successor accurately identified the moles sitting inside the German’s FIU and financial institutions. Hopefully, it will get ahead in curbing such illicit nexuses in Germany in the days to come.

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