On 31 March 2017, the German Federal Council announced its opinion that the government’s draft act for the implementation of the 4th EU Anti-Money-Laundering Directive (4th AMLD-Draft Implementation Act) requires several amendments.

The 4th AMLD-Draft Implementation Act provides that the General Customs Administration (Generalzolldirektion) shall be the responsible administrative body for the investigation of financial transactions, and that it shall forward notices of suspicious money laundering behavior to the prosecuting authorities. The Council disagrees with the 4th AMLD-Draft Implementation Act in this respect; as the General Customs Administration lacks criminal law expertise according to the Council’s opinion, and, thus would not be able to carry out required criminal law pre-checks.

The Council further criticises that the 4th AMLD- Draft Implementation Act exempts operators of slot machines and betting on race horses from the Money Laundering Act (GWG – Geldwäschegesetz), since such kind of gambling can be perfectly misused for money laundering.

In compliance with the proposal by the EU Commission on changes to the 4th AMLD, the planned transparency register should be open to the public right from the start. The Federal Council believes that this is the only way AML and terrorism can be effectively fought against. The current government’s draft act provides for a limited step-by-step access only, according to which primarily the responsible administrative body for the investigation of financial transactions and other authorities shall have access to the register, and, in case of justified interest journalists shall also get access.

The Federal Council has made further suggestions for amendments. The complete version of the Federal Council’s opinion on the 4th AMLD Implementation Act can be found here.

The 4th AMLD Implementation Act will enter into force at the end of June 2017.