Anti-money Laundering

Last verified on Monday 21st November 2022

Anti-money Laundering : Germany


Money laundering

1. What laws in your jurisdiction prohibit money laundering?

Germany

Section 261 of the German Criminal Code (GCC) defines the criminal offence of money laundering in Germany. According to the original wording of the provision, the legislator intended to cover the problem of interaction between the illegal and the legal economic cycle with the aim of making it more difficult to smuggle assets derived from organised crime and related forms of crime into circulation in the legal financial and economic cycle, focusing initially on the proceeds of organised crime.

In the course of the various EU Money Laundering Directives, the criminal offence has repeatedly been the subject of reform. In 2021, the German legislator even went beyond the European requirements and opted for the ‘all crimes approach’, which means that there is no longer a list of predicate offences, instead all proceeds derived from criminal activities are deemed to be contaminated.

In addition, the German Money Laundering Act (GwG) requires preventive compliance measures for obliged entities (eg, financial institutions, brokers, lawyers, but also traders of goods) to detect and prevent money laundering. The GwG also imposes a wide range of requirements on most companies that must be complied with, sets out reporting obligations and defines potential administrative fines.

An additional national regulation (GwGMeldV) sets out enhanced reporting obligations in the context of potential suspicious activities for real estate transactions.

There are no further laws at state level.

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2. What must the government prove to establish a criminal violation of the money laundering laws?

Germany

To establish a violation of section 261 GCC, law enforcement must first determine whether there is an object derived from an unlawful act. All movable and immovable property as well as rights resulting from an unlawful act can be considered an object of crime. Moreover, not only are objects that were obtained for the predicate offence (eg, payment) or directly from the predicate offence (eg, stolen goods) covered (original objects), but so are substitute objects (surrogates) that originate from a chain of further exploitation acts and retain the value of the original object. According to case law, this can also cover corruption payments as well as payments made as consideration for a contract that was obtained by corruption.

The criminal offence of money laundering can be realised in several possible ways, some of which may overlap due to the broad wording:

  • Concealment (section 261 (1) sentence 1 No. 1 GCC): Concealment is any activity that impedes access to an object of crime by locating it in a non-standard place or an act that conceals the object.
  • Exchanging, transferring or conveying (section 261 (1) sentence 1 no. 2 GCC): The exchange, transfer or acceptance of an object with the intent of preventing it being found, confiscated or its origin being investigated is also punishable. Exchange includes giving away the original object and simultaneously (or also temporally staggered) obtaining consideration, whereby there has to be a causal link between giving away the object and obtaining the consideration in order to fulfil the reciprocity element typical of an exchange. Transfer refers primarily to the transfer of rights, while conveyance refers primarily to the transfer of physical objects.
  • Procuring (section 261 (1) sentence 1 no. 3 GCC): The criminal offence of money laundering is also committed by anyone who procures, for himself or for a third party, an object derived from an unlawful act. The term procuring means obtaining the sole, owner-like power of disposal over the object of the crime. A merely temporary possibility of use by borrowing or renting is not sufficient.
  • Keeping, using (section 261 (1) sentence 1 no. 4 GCC): Any person who holds in custody or uses for thesmselves or for a third party an object derived from an unlawful act is also liable to prosecution for money laundering if they knew its origin at the time they obtained possession. The offender is deemed to have kept the object if they deliberately take it into their custody and keeps it there to preserve it for later use. Use comprises own use of the object and use for a third party.

Further, concealing or disguising facts that may be of relevance to an object derived from an unlawful act being found, confiscated or its origin being investigated is a punishable act (section 261 (2) GCC).

Money laundering requires that the perpetrator is aware of the fact that the object is derived from an unlawful act or else that they are recklessly unaware of the fact that the object is derived from an unlawful act. As regards the other prerequisites of the provision mens rea (ie, an intentional act) is required.

A voluntary self-disclosure excludes criminal liability (section 261 (8) GCC), provided the perpetrator voluntarily reports the offence to the competent authority or voluntarily occasions such a report to be made, unless the act had already been discovered, in whole or in part, at the time and the offender knew this or, based on a reasonable assessment, should have expected. In the case of intentional behaviour an additional requirement applies, namely that the proceeds of crime are secured.

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3. What are the predicate offences to money laundering? Do they include foreign crimes and tax offences?

Germany

Over the years, the catalogue of relevant predicate offences was broadened several times. In 2021, the German legislator opted for the ‘all crimes approach’, so that now all criminal offences can be considered as suitable predicate offences for money laundering. This broad definition even comprises foreign criminal offences (section 261 (9) GCC).

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4. Is there extraterritorial jurisdiction for violations of your jurisdiction’s money laundering laws?

Germany

First of all, proceeds of foreign criminal offences can constitute a predicate offence for section 261 GCC. In addition, the general rules regarding extraterritorial reach (sections 3 to 9 GCC) apply (ie, a link to Germany is required, eg, the perpetrator has to be a German citizen or a German company or else some act or decision making has to have taken place in Germany).

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5. Is there corporate criminal liability for money laundering offences, or is liability limited to individuals?

Germany

To date, there is no corporate criminal law in Germany, even though it has been under discussion for some time now. Since 2019, the discussion has focused on the legislative process for a Corporate Liability Act, which ultimately was dropped at the end of the legislative period in October 2021 (discontinuity principle) and because of the change in government.

Nevertheless, criminal offences committed by high-ranking representatives of a company or by improperly supervised employees can result in administrative fines pursuant to sections 30, 130 German Act on Regulatory Offences (OWiG). Although the maximum fines are generally limited to €10 million, higher fines can be imposed if the benefits of the crime exceed this limit.

Therefore, money laundering in connection with business activities (eg, resulting from tax evasion and/or bribery) can also result in administrative fines for the company.

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6. Which government authorities are responsible for investigating violations of the money laundering laws?

Germany

The local public prosecutor’s offices assisted by the local or federal police conduct investigations. In some states, specialised and centralised public prosecutor’s offices are competent for investigations of business crimes, including money laundering. In addition, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is responsible for collecting and analysing suspicious activity reports and collaborates with the competent public prosecutor’s offices.

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7. Which government agencies are responsible for the prosecution of money laundering offences?

Germany

The local public prosecutor’s offices will decide whether the case will be brought to court for prosecution. Depending on the criminal sanction to be expected in the individual case, the Magistrate Court or the Regional Court (often the Commercial Criminal Division) is competent to decide the case.

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8. What is the statute of limitations for money laundering offences?

Germany

The statute of limitations for all variants of the offence is five years (section 78 (3) No. 4 GCC). It starts with the last act of the offence.

It should be noted that money laundering offences are subject to the statute of limitations regardless of the predicate offence. Therefore, the statute of limitations for the predicate offence does not preclude criminal liability for money laundering or the prosecution of this offence.

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9. What are the penalties for a criminal violation of the money laundering laws?

Germany

The range of punishment for intentional money laundering within the meaning of section 261 GCC provides for a prison sentence of up to five years or in some cases a fine. In the case of recklessness regarding failing to recognize the criminal origin of the object, a fine or imprisonment of up to two years can be imposed.

In particularly serious cases, the range of punishment is increased to a prison sentence of six months to ten years pursuant to section 261 (4) GCC. A particularly serious case is, for example, acting on a commercial basis or as a member of a gang.

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10. Are there civil penalties for violations of the money laundering laws? What are they?

Germany

There are no civil penalties as such; however, following the civil law principles of unjustified enrichment, illegal profits deriving from money laundering can be confiscated.

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11. Is asset forfeiture possible under the money laundering laws? Is it part of the criminal prosecution? What property is subject to forfeiture?

Germany

Comprehensive confiscation of contaminated objects or proceeds of crimes are possible (section 73 et seq and 261 (10) GCC) regardless of whether the objects belong to the perpetrator or not. Normally, the (final) confiscation order is made in connection with the criminal verdict by the court. However, independent confiscation orders (ie, without criminal proceedings or verdicts against an individual) are also possible.

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12. Is civil or non-conviction-based asset forfeiture permitted under the money laundering laws? What property is subject to forfeiture?

Germany

Following the reforms introduced in 2017, non-conviction-based asset forfeiture is possible in Germany. Pursuant to section 76a GCC, contaminated objects and/or proceeds can be confiscated independently in situations where the criminal prosecution of an individual is not possible but the objective requirements of sections 73 et seq GCC are otherwise met. The core requirement for this is merely the suspicion of one of the catalogue offences set out in section 76a (4) sentence 3 GCC. This includes any money laundering offense pursuant to section 261 (1) GCC or section 261 (2) GCC. As a result, even an unconfirmed initial suspicion of money laundering resulting in the discontinuation of the investigation proceedings can provide the basis for the confiscation of seized funds in the absence of an identified predicate offence.

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Anti-money laundering

13. Which laws or regulations in your jurisdiction impose anti-money laundering compliance requirements on financial institutions and other businesses?

Germany

The German Money Laundering Act (GwG), which was comprehensively reformed in the course of implementing the Fourth Money Laundering Directive, contains a catalogue of organisational, identification and documentation and reporting obligations. Pursuant to section 2 (1) GwG, the requirements are directed at credit and financial services institutions, financial and insurance companies, insurance intermediaries, lawyers, patent attorneys, notaries, auditors, real estate agents and others acting in the course of their trade or profession.

The aim is to enable law enforcement authorities to trace illegal financial flows. The GwG, thus, provides the legal instruments for obligated entities, for controlling, identifying and investigating acts suspected of money laundering and their perpetrators.

In addition, there are some sector-specific regulations, for example, in the German Banking Act (KWG) or the German Payment Services Supervision Act (ZAG).

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14. What types of institutions are subject to the AML rules?

Germany

There is an exhaustive list of obliged entities set out in section 2 (1) GwG:

  • credit institutions;
  • financial services institutions;
  • payment institutions and electronic money institutions;
  • agents and electronic money agents;
  • independent businesspersons who distribute or redeem the electronic money of a credit institution;
  • financial companies;
  • insurance undertakings;
  • insurance intermediaries;
  • asset management companies;
  • lawyers, legal advisors who are members of a bar association, patent attorneys and notaries;
  • legal advisors who are not members of a bar association;
  • auditors, chartered accountants, tax advisers and authorised tax agents;
  • service providers for companies and for trustees;
  • real estate agents;
  • organisers and brokers of games of chance; and
  • traders in goods. 

‘Traders in goods’ is defined very broadly and covers almost all corporates, apart from corporates in the service sector. However, especially for traders in goods, less extensive obligations apply as long as they are not engaged in cash transactions higher than €10,000.

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15. Must payment services and money transmitters be licensed in your jurisdiction? Are payment services and money transmitters subject to the AML rules and compliance requirements?

Germany

Companies whose registered office is in Germany that intend to provide payment services require a licence from the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin), the German financial supervisory authority. Whether a specific business model requires permission or registration as a payment service is determined based on the individual circumstances in each specific case.

Pursuant t section 2 (1) No. 3, 4 GwG, payment services and money transmitters are subject to the AML rules and compliance requirements under German law.

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16. Are digital assets subject to the AML rules and compliance requirements?

Germany

Pursuant to section 2 (1) No. 3, 4 GwG, digital assets are subject to the AML rules and compliance requirements. Since 2020, companies that offer services related to digital assets require a corresponding regulatory permit from BaFin. Anti-money laundering law explicitly also regulates crypto custody business.

In addition, the EU Crypto Asset Transfer Regulation providing for increased due diligence obligations to obliged entities that carry out transfers of crypto assets within the meaning of section 1 (29) GwG came into force on 1 October 2021.

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17. What are the specific AML compliance requirements for covered institutions?

Germany

The GwG specifies several compliance requirements for obliged entities by following a risk-based approach.

Pursuant to section 4 GwG, obliged entities must establish a risk management system of their own for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing that is appropriate with regard to the type and scope of their business activities.

The core component of risk management is, on the one hand, the risk analysis required by law under section 5 GwG, in which obliged entities must identify and assess the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing for the business they conduct. The aim is to comprehensively and completely record, identify, categorise and weigh the specific risks and, based on this, to take suitable preventive measures. Obliged entities that are parent companies of a group are required to conduct a risk analysis for all branches, subsidiaries and group companies as defined in section 1 (16) No. 2 to 4 GwG that are subject to obligations under money laundering law. Another core component of risk management is therefore, on the other hand, the internal security measures required by law pursuant to section 6 GwG. Obliged entities must create appropriate business and customer-related internal safeguards to manage and mitigate the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing in the form of policies, procedures and controls.

In addition, certain obliged entities must appoint an anti-money laundering officer at management level and a deputy, pursuant to section 7 GwG. This obligation applies to credit and financial services institutions, payment and e-money institutions, financial companies pursuant to section 1 (24) GwG, insurance companies subject to the GwG and capital management companies pursuant to the German Investment Code, as well as organisers and gambling brokers. The anti-money laundering officer is responsible for ensuring compliance with money laundering regulations, while the responsibility of the management level remains unaffected.

Section 8 GwG regulates the obligation to record and retain details, information, data and documents. Within the scope of this, it lists which information, data and documents must be recorded and kept. This includes, amongst other things, the data and information collected in the course of fulfilling due diligence obligations, sufficient information about the implementation and the results of the risk evaluation as well as records for verifying the identity of natural persons and legal entities. This obligation applies equally to all obliged entities.

Further, the GwG distinguishes between general (section 10 GwG), simplified (section 14 GwG) and enhanced (section 15 GwG) due diligence requirements:

  • The general due diligence obligations primarily comprise the identification of the contracting party, the clarification of whether the contracting party is acting on behalf of a beneficial owner and, if applicable, the identification of the beneficial owner, the obtaining and evaluation of information on the purpose and on the intended nature of the business relationship, the determination of whether the contracting party or the beneficial owner is a politically exposed person (PEP), and the continuous monitoring of the business relationship as well as of the transaction. The scope of the measures must correspond to the respective risk. These general due diligence obligations must be carried out when a business relationship is established, for certain transactions outside of a business relationship, and on an ad hoc basis in the event of an indication or doubt, as well as in the event of significant changes. Section 19 (4) to (8a) GwG also defines additional due diligence requirements for individual obliged entities.
  • The requirements for the application of simplified due diligence by obliged entities are defined in section 14 GwG. Accordingly, obliged entities only have to fulfil simplified due diligence obligations to the extent that they determine, taking into account the risk factors specified in Annexes 1 and 2 of the GwG, that there is only a low risk of money laundering or terrorist financing in certain areas, in particular with regard to customers, transactions and services or products. As a result, the scope of the measures to be taken to fulfil the general due diligence requirements may, among other things, be reduced appropriately.

However, it is worth noting that the use of simplified due diligence requires justification on a case-by-case basis and should not be used on a regular basis. 

In some cases, obliged entities are subject to the enhanced due diligence requirements set out in section 15 GwG. This is the case, in particular, if the obliged entities determine in the course of the risk analysis or in individual cases, taking into account the risk factors specified in Annexes 1 and 2 of the GwG, that there may be a higher risk of money laundering or terrorist financing. In such a situation, the scope of measures must be increased. Section 15 GwG sets out which additional compliance measures (eg, additional KYC searches and/or monitoring obligations) are required.

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18. Are there different AML compliance requirements for different types of institutions?

Germany

Apart from smaller distinctions, the GwG in general does not in principle require different standards for different institutions, as the GwG follows a risk-based approach. Thus the GwG only sets out the general principles and each institution has to determine appropriate compliance measures based on its own risk profile. However, BaFin, the German financial supervisory authority sets out more detailed requirements in its interpretation guidance on the GwG (Interpretation and Application Guidance in relation to the German Money Laundering Act, AuA) and has also published an additional interpretation note for financial institutions (AuA BT).

In addition, the German Banking Act (KWG) sets out additional anti-money laundering compliance obligations for financial institutions as part of its overall risk mitigation compliance measures (section 25h KWG). Pursuant to section 25h KWG, financial services institutions, financial holding companies and credit institutions are obligated to implement internal security measures that also comprise anti-money laundering compliance measures.

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19. Which government authorities are responsible for the examination and enforcement of compliance with the AML rules?

Germany

As a general rule, financial institutions are supervised by BaFin (from 2023 onwards the most important institutions in Europe are supervised by the newly established European Anti-Money laundering authority, AMLA), all other obliged entities are supervised by sectoral, partly regional supervisory authorities (up to 300 different supervisory authorities exist). The German government intends to limit the number of regional and sectoral supervisory authorities.

In detail (see section 50 GwG):

  • financial institutions are supervised and monitored by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, better known as BaFin;
  • insurance companies supervised by BaFin or by the respective supervisory authority for the insurance industry on state level, depending on their regional scope and economic importance;
  • lawyers and legal advisers by the local bar/professional associations;
  • notaries by the president of the regional court in the relevant district;
  • auditors, registered accountants, tax advisers and agents by their respective chamber of profession (eg, the Chamber of Tax Advisors);
  • gambling operators and intermediaries by the authority responsible for granting the gambling licence, unless provided otherwise under the law of the federal states; and
  • others, such as commercial traders in goods, by the respective supervisory authority of the federal states.

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20. Are there requirements to monitor and report suspicious activity? What are the factors that trigger the requirement to report suspicious activity? What is the process for reporting suspicious activity?

Germany

The general due diligence obligations require continuous monitoring of the business relationship, including the transactions carried out in the course of the business relationship. Checks have to be carried out on a regular and event-driven basis.

Pursuant to section 43 GwG, a suspicious activity report (SAR) must be filed if the facts indicate that:

  • the assets related to the business relationship, brokerage or transaction derives from a criminal offence which could constitute a predicate offence for money laundering;
  • a business transaction, a transaction or an asset is related to terrorist financing; or
  • the contracting party does not fulfil its obligation to disclose beneficial ownership.

For the existence of reportable facts, it is necessary, but also sufficient, that facts exist that indicate the existence of the above-mentioned cases. For this purpose, the facts are to be assessed according to general experience and the existing professional experience and knowledge from the perspective of unusualness and conspicuousness in the respective business context.

The reporting obligation exists irrespective of the amount of a transaction or a business transaction or the value of an underlying asset. In addition to transactions or business relationships that are imminent, ongoing, rejected or not yet executed, the reporting obligation also covers transactions that have already been carried out.

Additional and stricter reporting obligations apply for the real estate sector pursuant to GwGMeldV.

After a suspicious activity report has been filed, the business relationship or transaction has to be stopped until it is released by the public prosecutor’s office or the FIU, or, if the third business day after the filing of the report has elapsed without a prohibition, by the authorities.

The report has to be filed to FIU electronically without delay via a user interface (called ‘goAML’). Only in special circumstances is reporting via letter, mail or fax permissible.

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21. Are there confidentiality requirements associated with the reporting of suspicious activity? What are the requirements? Who do the confidentiality requirements apply to? Are there penalties for violations of the confidentiality requirements?

Germany

The obliged entity is not allowed to inform the suspected business partner or a third party about the suspicious activity report or any investigative proceedings initiated as a result (tipping-off prohibition).

Further, section 54 GwG imposes a duty of confidentiality on certain persons. Persons employed by the supervisory authorities or working for the supervisory authorities must not – without authorisation – reveal or utilise facts that have come to their knowledge in the course of the supervision if keeping these facts, in particular business and trade secrets, confidential is in the interest of an obliged entity or a third party subject to their supervision. This also applies to other persons who, through reporting in an official capacity, gain knowledge of the facts.

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22. Are there requirements for reporting large currency transactions? Who must file the reports, and what is the threshold?

Germany

There are no reporting obligations for currency transactions under German anti-money laundering laws.

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23. Are there reporting requirements for cross-border transactions? Who is subject to the requirements and what must be reported?

Germany

There are no reporting obligations for cross-border transactions under German anti-money laundering laws. 

Pursuant to section 67 (1) et seq Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (AWV), domestic companies and individuals must report monthly to the German Central Bank about cross-border transactions that they receive from (incoming payments) or make to foreigners or for their account to residents (outgoing payments) that exceed €12,500. Payments within the meaning of the AWV are transfers or payments by direct debit, cheque, bill of exchange, cash payments as well as set-offs and settlements. The obligation to report also applies to the transfer of goods and rights to companies, subsidiaries and permanent establishments. However, this information is not gathered for anti-money laundering purposes, but for statistical reasons.

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24. Is there a financial intelligence unit (FIU) or other government agency responsible for analysing the information reported under the AML rules?

Germany

In Germany, the Zentralstelle für Finanztransaktionsuntersuchungen (FIU), established at the General Directorate of Customs, is responsible for collecting and analysing information related to money laundering or terrorist financing, such as filed suspicious activity reports.

The FIU is responsible for passing relevant information on to the competent law enforcement agencies as well as to competent authorities for preventive purposes. Among other things, the FIU prohibits transactions and orders urgent action, engages in dialogue with the obliged entities, law enforcement agencies and supervisory authorities, publishes an annual report on the operational analyses conducted, and attends meetings of national and international working groups.

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25. What are the penalties for failing to comply with your jurisdiction’s AML rules, and are they civil or criminal?

Germany

Pursuant to section 56 GwG, violations of the GwG can be sanctioned by administrative fines. Section 56 GwG now includes 81 possible penalised violations of the GwG.

Violations under section 56 (1) GwG are punishable only if committed intentionally or recklessly. Intentional and reckless violations within the meaning of section 56 (1) GwG include, inter alia, failure to identify and assess risks, violation of documentation, review and updating obligations in connection with risk analysis, violations of record-keeping and retention obligations, the retention period, the obligation to create uniform measures throughout the group as well as the obligation to present appropriate measures or violations of notification obligations. The maximum fine is €150,000 for intentional violations and €100,000 for reckless violations.

Section 56 (2) GwG specifies violations where negligent violations can be punished. This includes, for example, failure to appoint a member of the management level, failure to appoint a money laundering officer and a deputy, violations of a prohibition on continuing the business relationship or of an obligation to wait as well as  the disclosure of information. In the case of negligence, the maximum fine is €50,000.

Section 56 (3) GwG contains increases in fines in the case of serious, repeated or systematic violations. According to the legislative materials, a serious violation is one that must be considered serious in the context of an overall assessment. If a violation has a significant concrete impact on anti-money laundering that is indicative of a serious violation. If the violation has been committed more than once, it is repeated. Further, a systematic violation exists if the violation follows a certain pattern. In such cases, the maximum limit of the fine range is increased to the higher of either a fine of up to €1 million or twice the economic benefit derived from the violation.

For obliged entities in the financial sector, section 56 (3) sentence 3, 5 GwG contains further increases in the absolute fine limit, which is raised to up to €5 million. If these obliged entities are legal entities or associations of persons, the fine may also amount to up to 10 per cent of the total turnover as an alternative to the absolute maximum limit or twice the economic benefit. Section 56 (4) GwG then contains provisions on the calculation of the total revenue. The total turnover of the annual or consolidated financial statements of the last financial year preceding the decision by the authorities is used as a basis, which is determined by reference to the items included in the turnover.

Further, measures and sanctions can be published by the supervisory authorities (‘naming and shaming’).

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26. Are compliance personnel subject to the AML rules? Can an enforcement action be brought against an individual for violations?

Germany

There are no special provisions for general compliance personnel. However, some courts take the view that anti-money laundering officers can personally be subject to fines set out under section 56 in special circumstances, provided the violation concerns a duty incumbent on the anti-money laundering officer under the GwG. Such a duty was confirmed in a case of a not-timely filed suspicious activity report by a financial institution that resulted in a fine being imposed on the anti-money laundering officer.

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27. What is the statute of limitations for violations of the AML rules?

Germany

Prosecution of the administrative fines of section 56 GwG is subject to a uniform statute of limitations of three years, irrespective of the form of guilt (section 31 (2) No. 1 OWiG). In addition, section 34 (2) No. 1 OWiG is decisive for the limitation period for enforcement. Here, a limitation period of five years (fine of more than €1,000) or three years (fine of up to €1,000) is provided. 

The statute of limitations for all variants of section 261 GCC is five years (section 78 (3) No. 4 GCC).

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28. Does your jurisdiction have a beneficial ownership registry or an entity or office that collects information on the beneficial ownership of legal entities?

Germany

Since October 2017, the beneficial owners of legal entities under private law and registered partnerships have to be entered in the transparency register (sections 18 et seq GwG).

The German legislator went beyond the requirements set out by EU law and implemented additional provisions regarding the transparency register. The requirements were further tightened in 2021. Today, each company is obliged to provide information about its beneficial owners, regardless of whether the company is a public listed company or not or whether the information can be derived from other registers or not.

It is currently further intended to also include beneficial owners of real estate properties in the transparency register.

Access to the data of beneficial owners in the transparency register is staggered:

  • certain authorities, eg, law enforcement agencies, are granted full access to the data in the transparency register as part of their duties;
  • obliged entities are only permitted access on a case-by-case basis and within the scope of their due diligence obligations (a check of the transparency register is mandatory as part of the KYC check); and
  • members of the public are granted restricted access.

A restriction is possible based on a formal application of a beneficial owner in cases where the beneficial owner demonstrates that, taking into account all the circumstances of the individual case, the inspection and transmission are contrary to the overriding interests of the beneficial owner that are worthy of protection (see section 23 (2) GwG).

Each obliged entity that recognises a potential inconsistency in the transparency register during its KYC check of a business partner is obliged to report this inconsistency to the transparency register (section 23a GwG).

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