Germany enjoys the reputation of being a kind of money laundering paradise for autocrats, oligarchs and organized crime. On the one hand, this is due to lax laws, but on the other hand, it is also due to deficits in the official fight against financial crime, which is repeatedly criticized internationally. The responsible Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is based at customs, has only been making negative headlines for years due to a huge backlog of unprocessed suspected money laundering reports; in December the previous boss Christof Schulte threw in the towel. A successor has finally been found: Daniel Thelesklaf will become head of the FIU from July. The Swiss lawyer said via Twitter: “I will do my best to concentrate on the essentials.”
The latter in particular will be difficult. “The new head of the FIU has to set up this authority from scratch because so much is in trouble,” says the Finanzwende initiative, for example. After all, Thelesklaf, who completed his master’s degree at the University of Zurich, has decades of experience in the fight against financial crime. From 2011 to 2019 he was head of the FIU in Liechtenstein and in 2019 and 2020 in Switzerland. He is currently leading the Finance Against Slavery & Human Trafficking Initiative at the UN University in New York.
The FIU receives information from local banks, insurance companies and real estate agents about suspicious financial transactions from customers, with 300,000 reports in 2021 alone. These are viewed and evaluated by the central office, real suspicious cases are enriched with further data and passed on to the law enforcement authorities. This happens too seldom due to the FIU problems. But Thelesklaf not only has to put his future shop in order, but also integrate it into the Federal Financial Criminal Police Office planned by employer Christian Lindner. There is also a dispute over competence between the federal and state governments. Still good prospects for money launderers.