A new report from Transparency International claims Germany’s property sector is a hive of laundering used by organised crime networks.
They estimate as much as 30bn EUR were laundered in Germany last year, not only by criminals but also by corrupt officials.
“For us it is clear: There is a massive problem with money laundering in real estate in Germany. The current laws and the equipment of the investigating authorities are out of all proportion to the limitlessness of international financial flows,” said Edda Müller, Chairwoman of Transparency Germany.
2017 regulations brought in ‘know your customer’ requirements to real estate and legal professions but there appear to be major gaps in compliance.
The Transparency Register of True Beneficial Owners is deemed not fit for purpose, too many loopholes are outstanding for it to be effective.
TI calls for the centralisation of land registers, as well as their digitisation, so that they are accessible to auditors.
The Italian mafia are known to be gaining ground in Germany, an issue brought to national attention recently when a number of suspected mafia figures were arrested in raids across not just Germany but also Belgium and the Netherlands.
The EU is still struggling to map regulation and law enforcement to the scale and coordination needed for such a large and integrated bloc. The EU has been a haven for organised crime and trafficking for well over ten years. Germany is one of the cleanest countries in Europe, but clearly more work will be needed to keep it that way.