Reporting suspicions – Who do I need to contact, if I would like to report a money laundering suspicion?

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Regardless of the value of the asset in question or the transaction amount, you are required to submit a report to the Financial Intelligence Unit as the central body for investigations concerning financial transactions, as soon as one of the following indications applies:

  1. the asset value might originate from a criminal act or an illegal source,
  2. the transaction or the asset is intended for or in any way related to terrorism financing,
  3. and/or the transaction partner does not disclose to you, whether they are acting on behalf of a beneficial owner.

Important: The obligation to submit a report applies regardless of the transaction value (for rental agents, goods traders, art agents and art store keepers it therefore also applies below the threshold value of EUR 10,000, and for precious metal traders and bookmakers also below the threshold value of EUR 2,000) and the payment mode (cash or cash-free).

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How do you report a money laundering suspicion?

Suspicions of money laundering according to § 43 et seq. GwG must generally be transmitted to the FIU in electronic form. For this purpose, the FIU provides an online application (goAML) as a reporting portal for use by the obliged entities.

The reporting portal is available here.

Duty to register electronically

Since 1 January 2020, and independent of any reported suspicions, all obliged entities must register for the electronic process of the Central Office for Financial Transaction Investigations – FIU. To do so, please use the link indicated above.

How do you detect suspicious cases in practice?

You do not need to make any detailed investigations to check, if a crime according to the “money laundering section” (§ 261 Penal Code) has been committed. You should merely check, if there are any facts that are unusual and/or suspicious from the point of view of general experience and your professional knowledge, and if such facts suggest that money laundering or terrorism financing might be taking place. Suspicious factors include (not an exhaustive list!):
  • The type of transaction is uncharacteristic for the customer and their supposed financial circumstances.
  • The customer avoids personal contact as far as possible.
  • The customer demands to remain anonymous or tries to conceal their true identity.
  • The customer cannot present a passport or identity card and has no comprehensible explanation for this.
  • You have doubts about the authenticity of the presented documents.
  • The customer/contract partner would like to use unsuitable ways of identification (e.g. to send a photocopy/photo of the passport).
  • The customer evades your questions and/or makes unspecific or incomprehensible statements.
  • The customer takes back their contractual offer after finding out that further research is necessary to determine their identity or the beneficial owner.
  • It is obvious that the transaction value with the obliged entity in question is kept below the threshold value deliberately to avoid identification.
  • The contract partner’s or beneficial owner’s identity details or the payment details are adjusted repeatedly.
  • Payment obligations are fulfilled by third parties (“dummy transaction”).
  • There is a significant gap between the market value and the sales price of a property.
  • Suspiciously big negotiating range in sales price negotiations.
  • *For real estate: Multiple changes of ownership in a row with the price increasing with each transaction.
  • For real estate agents: The commission fee is not paid by the estate agent’s contract partner but by a third party.
  • The buyer is not familiar with/interested in the characteristics of the property.
  • Tourists from a third state who wish to pay amounts of over EUR 10,000 in cash but cannot/refuse to present written customs confirmation of declaring such cash funds.
  • The contract partner asks for a different account than the original account to be used for refunds, repayment of deposits, etc.
  • In goods trading: The contract partner asks for cash (down) payments to be returned cash-free.
  • There is no comprehensible relation between the person appearing and the contract partner.

What are the consequences of reporting a money laundering suspicion?

After reporting a suspicion, the transaction in question must not be concluded for the time being, unless postponing the transaction would hinder investigation of a crime.

  • The transaction must only be concluded with approval from the FIU or the Public Prosecution Department

or

  • after the end of the third working day since the suspicion has been reported,

provided that conclusion of the transaction was not prohibited by the FIU or the Public Prosecution Department.