Germany is reportedly forming a new agency focused on anti-money laundering (AML) and sanctions efforts.
The new organization will be called the Federal Authority for Fighting Financial Crime and will absorb the country’s existing AML authority, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Financial Times (FT) reported Wednesday (March 29), citing unnamed sources.
A bill creating the new agency will be introduced in Germany’s federal parliament within months, according to the report.
“The aim of the new agency … is to strategically realign the fight against money laundering in Germany,” an unnamed senior official told the FT.
The creation of this new and “beefed up” agency comes about seven months after an intergovernmental agency focused on limiting money laundering and terrorist financing, the Financial Action Task Force, issued a report saying Germany needed to do more to investigate and prosecute such activities, according to the report.
In December 2022, the leader of the Financial Intelligence Unit stepped down following the revelation that the government had kept a large backlog of suspicious activity reports from the Financial Action Task Force.
The resignation followed months of reports in German media that the FIU had more than 100,000 unprocessed reports dating back more than two years — which conflicted with the Financial Intelligence Unit head’s earlier statement to parliament that there was no delay in processing reports.
The creation of the new agency also comes about four years after the accounting scandal around the collapse of the payment firm Wirecard, the report said.
In that case, the former CEO of Wirecard, Markus Braun, was formally charged by Munich public prosecutors with fraud, breach of trust and accounting manipulation in March 2022 following a criminal investigation into the German payments firm.
Braun, who had been in custody since July 2020, was accused of signing off on financial statements he knew were incorrect from 2015 to 2018.
Beyond Germany, a string of fines recently shined a light on AML failures at European banks.
As PYMNTS reported in December 2022, these included Gatehouse Bank being slapped with a $1.83 million penalty by the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Santander being hit with a fine of $131.8 million by the FCA, and Crédit Agricole being fined $1.59 million by France’s ACPR.
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