Important data is missing: fight against money laundering is not progressing

In many cases it is still impossible for the authorities to disclose hidden structures for money laundering.

Important data is missing: fight against money laundering is not progressing

In many cases it is still impossible for the authorities to disclose hidden structures for money laundering. An incomplete transparency register is delaying investigations. Because of the 1.5 million companies that are required to be registered, by no means all have registered.

Germany's efforts to combat money laundering and tax evasion are largely in vain, according to a report in the "Welt am Sonntag". The investigating authorities lacked important data from the transparency register, in which companies are supposed to enter their owners. Limited liability companies had until mid-2022 to do this. But of the almost 1.5 million companies that are required to be registered, only 838,348 have so far registered, the newspaper reported, citing the Federal Ministry of Finance.

This means that in many cases it remains virtually impossible for law enforcement authorities to disclose veiled structures for money laundering or to understand which companies are behind Russian oligarchs despite sanctions, as the newspaper further reported. Both oligarchs and criminal organizations such as clans often use complex corporate networks to disguise their property.

The aim of the Transparency Act was to disclose the ultimate owners behind it for every company in the country. Frank Buckenhofer, chairman of the customs police union, also criticized the fact that the detection of crimes such as money laundering and terrorist financing is made more difficult by the poor data situation. "An incomplete transparency register delays police investigations, which is more than annoying," he told the newspaper.

In the event of missing or incorrect entries, the authorities would have to take detours to find out who the true owner of a conspicuous legal entity was. Left-wing MP Pascal Meiser also criticizes: "The transparency register is still miles away from bringing comprehensive light into the darkness of non-transparent ownership structures of companies and real estate."

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