The German Law for optimizing the Anti-Money Laundering Act entered into force on December 29, 2011. Germany thus counters criticism by the European Union that it would not sufficiently combat money laundering. At the same time, it wants to protect Germany's economy from money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Small and medium-sized businesses are also affected.
The law provides for the expansion of due diligence and reporting obligations in the "non-financial sector". In addition, violations of the Money Laundering Act will be punished more severely. In the future, fines of up to EUR 100,000 must be paid even when the act is not necessarily intentional. "A grossly negligent act is already sufficient," explained Dr. Susanne Stauder, money laundering expert of law firm Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek.
Moreover, the Act now subjects all companies and professionals working with electronic payment (e-money) to more stringent standards. Not only large companies will be affected. Even small and medium-sized businesses may be subject to reporting requirements.
Finally, financial institutions and casinos are required to appoint a money laundering officer. For other companies, the supervisory authority may order the appointment of such officers, where necessary.
Whether the measures will reduce the estimated amount of EUR 50 billion of money laundered annually remains to be seen in the view of Dr. Andre Szesny, Salaried Partner at the Düsseldorf office. "It is evident that those companies that are subject to the law for the first time are faced with a multitude of new rules and obligations. This requires professional assistance to maintain a clear view and to create the appropriate sensitivity," added the expert on corporate criminal law and tax criminal law.