Backlog Forces Resignation of Germany’s Anti-Money Laundering Head

AML, anti-money laundering, Christof Schulte, Germany

The leader of German’s anti-money laundering office has reportedly resigned.

Christof Schulte, who had overseen Germany’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) since 2018, stepped down Thursday (Dec. 15) following the revelation that the government had kept a large backlog of suspicious activity reports from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force.

That’s according to a report by the Financial Times (FT), citing sources familiar with the matter. Germany’s finance ministry reported the resignation to parliament Thursday, saying it was for personal reasons, the report said.

The FIU has not responded to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

The FT noted that the resignation follows months of reports in German media that the FIU had more than 100,000 unprocessed suspicious activity reports dating back more than two years. Those reports conflicted with a statement Schulte gave to parliament in February, when he said that there was no delay in processing the report.

The report also said the FIU has been criticized for slowness in dealing with suspicious activity reports. For example, the unit reportedly only shared information about reports about disgraced payments company Wirecard until after its insolvency.

This week saw the start of the defense phase in the trial of former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun, who has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyers have tried to shift the blame onto fellow defendant Oliver Bellenhaus, who headed Wirecard’s Dubai operations and is now acting as the prosecution’s chief witness in the case against Braun.

The news comes as the European Union is finalizing a new AML framework designed to strengthen the bloc’s ability to fight financial crime.

Spotlighting the significance of the package in a speech last month, Mairead McGuinness, the EU’s commissioner for financial services, financial stability and capital markets union, said the new measures mark “a tectonic shift in our approach.”

First presented in 2021, the proposed new rules will end loopholes in the current legislation and harmonize oversight across the EU member states by launching a central AML authority, the AMLA, which will be charged with enforcing the rules.

The new authority is being created to deal with perceived shortcomings in the present fragmented regime, the quality and effectiveness of which the European Commission has called “uneven, due to significant variations in resources and practices across Member States.”

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