The obligations under the Money Laundering Act (GwG) vary greatly from sector to sector. These include the preparation of risk analyses of your own business operations, internal security measures as well as business partner checks (KYC) as part of customer due diligence obligations.
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Anti-money laundering is a highly interrelated concept that can only be effective, if all obligations are implemented consistently and professionally. The foundation for this is provided by the risk analysis. This involves assessing the risk of the respective business operations on the basis of many factors. Measures must then be taken to take account of the findings of the risk analysis. In addition, regional differences must be considered, which affect the interpretation and application of the obligations arising from the Money Laundering Act.
The internal measures to be implemented include, for example, the establishment of uniform reporting channels, trainings and reviews of employees. Moreover, the establishment of anonymous whistleblower systems, the appointment of money laundering officers as a contact person for authorities and responsible persons for the purpose of monitoring and complying with money laundering prevention measures within a company, as well as a uniform documentation system that can be provided to the supervisory authorities in the event of corresponding controls.
External security measures supplement the internal. These include mandatory KYC checks (customer identification), (enhanced) due diligence and PeP checks, and the submission of suspicious activity reports to the FIU. Compliance with these obligations is only possible if employees are sensitised accordingly and internal security measures take effect. The situation is similar the other way around. If the internal security measures comply with the requirements of the Money Laundering Act (AMLA), it must be ensured that the external security measures are sufficient to achieve full AMLA compliance.
Violations of the Money Laundering Act are subject to heavy fines. The Money Laundering Act also expressly reserves the right to publicly denounce companies on the basis of non-compliance with obligations. In addition to the fines, this can lead to a high loss of reputation.
Fines can be imposed for breaches of duty
According to recent studies, money launderers act in a similar way as legal investors. They invest in high-value goods that also promise a certain return. In addition, there is hardly any other country within the European Union that allows such large cash transactions. This is another reason why money launderers particularly favour operating here.
Awareness of money laundering activities in Germany in various sectors is also low in certain cases. The risk of becoming a victim of money launderers in Germany is often underestimated due to the country's comparatively low crime rate. Studies also show that the money to be laundered is rarely invested or laundered where it is generated. organised crime is aware that international cooperation among authorities makes it more difficult to prosecute transnational crimes. This is one of the reasons why national authorities focus so strongly on compliance with obligations imposed by the Money Laundering Act. Although money laundering cannot be prevented entirely, the measures to be taken make it considerably more difficult for money launderers to channel large sums of money into the legal economy. Experts estimate that money laundering in Germany alone accounts for over 100 billion euros in losses per year.
The legal complex of money laundering is one of the most frequently updated and amended areas of law that exist in Germany. The legislator continues to rely on compliance with obligations on the part of the industries mentioned in the Money Laundering Act. In addition, it reserves the right for supervisory authorities to decide for themselves, e.g., on the obligation to appoint a money laundering officer, to independently tighten the measures for money laundering prevention in certain industries.
Overall, the German government and the opposition parties are increasingly focusing on the issue of money laundering. This is partly in response to various scandals that have severely damaged Germany's image as a business location. However, not only internal pressure, but also external pressure can lead to tighter controls and measures. On the one hand, the European Union is currently working on harmonising standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing; on the other hand, Germany is also regularly audited by the international organization "FATF" (Financial Action Task Force) regarding corresponding preventive measures. A negative test result can lead to more difficult international trading conditions, which legislators are endeavouring to prevent through stronger controls and more stringent measures.
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