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Money laundering

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Kanzlei Dr. Schmitz lawyers advise both companies and private individuals in all matters relating to money laundering. We represent companies facing fines as well as corporate management bodies or private individuals subject to ongoing or imminent criminal investigation.

It is important to know that the requirements stipulated in Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering have been tightened up even further. This is particularly relevant to companies which engage in cash-based transactions. This is because it is not only banks, financial services providers and insurance companies which must comply with the requirements of the Money Laundering Act (GWG), but also in specific cases lawyers, auditors, tax consultants, real estate agents and those trading goods. The latter group includes all those who sell commercial goods, which affects a large number of business operations.

The duties which must be complied with include identifying contracting parties and the persons acting on their behalf, clarifying who is the beneficial owner through to appointing a money-laundering officer and implementing a compliance system. This means, for example, that an automotive dealer or jeweller must identify the contracting parties/customers it is dealing with as soon as cash payments of €10,000 or more are paid, either in a one-off transaction or in part payments. In practice this means that a dealer is required to record a natural person’s first and family names, place of birth, date of birth, nationality and place of residence. This data must be validated by means of an official identification document. This identification and the checks carried out must be recorded and retained. If a customer does not appear in person, the person acting on his or her behalf must be identified. Legal persons must likewise be identified by means of an extract from the commercial register. In this case, the beneficial owner, i.e. the ownership and control structure of the company, must be clarified.

Dealers receiving cash payments of €10,000 or more must also operate an effective risk management system. This would include, for example, an initial risk analysis and appropriate internal safeguard measures.

Violations of these obligations may be sanctioned with fines of up to €100,000; particularly serious, recurring or systematic violations may be fined by amounts of up to €1 million or twice the relevant economic benefits.

The fifth EU Money Laundering Directive has now also been adopted by the European Parliament and remains to be implemented by the Member States. This directive now covers matters such as virtual currencies ( i.e. bitcoins), more stringent transparency requirements and the powers of Financial Intelligence Units, FIU. Kanzlei Dr. Schmitz and its lawyers are able to draw up appropriate action plans for the receipt of cash which comply with current regulations and which also meet assessment requirements for specific industries.

If criminal proceedings or administrative fine procedures have already been instigated, Kanzlei Dr. Schmitz lawyers provide professional representation aimed at minimising the damage to those responsible and keeping corporate fines as low as possible. We also ensure that authorities recognise that part of the fines and penalties levied are classified as being of a tax-deductible nature.

If several people are accused of breaking money-laundering law, a collaborative defence may be organised with colleagues in our network.

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