Dhe money just lies around in Germany. At least that’s how Dutch automatic sprinklers seem to see it. With a loud bang and without any consideration, they break into ATMs in German banks, it takes them three, four, five minutes. They then hop in their getaway cars and speed away down the freeway. The risk of getting caught is low. The booty big. Often there are more than 100,000 euros in small and large bills in the machines.
However, the Germans’ love of cash does not only attract automatic bombers. For years, security authorities and experts have been demanding that Germany introduce an upper limit for cash payments. In many European countries they have existed for a long time. And last year, the EU Commission also presented a plan to combat money laundering, which, among other things, provides for an EU-wide upper limit of 10,000 euros. Despite new cryptocurrencies, as Europol has stated in a report, the following still applies to organized crime: “Cash is king”. Not only because criminals usually have their goods and services paid for in cash, but because cash also plays an important role in money laundering. Cash transfers hardly leave any traces. And they make it easier for criminals to disguise the origin of their earnings and end up disguising them as legal assets.
Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) now wants to support a EUR 10,000 upper limit for cash transactions. “It is crucial that illegal assets do not enter the legal economic cycle,” she said when presenting her “strategy for combating “serious and organized crime” at the autumn conference of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) on Wednesday in Wiesbaden. Faeser said that the fight against organized crime in Germany had not been taken seriously for far too long. She referred to the Netherlands, where not only the networks of automatic demolition machines are at home, but also brutal drug gangs that no longer shy away from murdering lawyers and journalists. “It’s not that far away.”
The Minister of the Interior is focusing her strategy on depriving criminal organizations of their enormous profits and making money laundering more difficult. “We will ensure that suspicious assets are identified and apprehended more quickly,” said Faeser. She referred to the so-called “Suspicious Wealth Order”, as it applies in Great Britain, for example, and obliges the owners of suspicious assets to disclose their origin or, if they are straw men, to name the real owners. If they don’t do this or if they can’t prove in a comprehensible way how they got the assets, the state has the right to confiscate the assets. In order to make it easier for the authorities to determine the owners of real estate, Faeser is also committed to a nationwide, uniform and central register of buildings and apartments.
The police are also to be strengthened in particular in their skills and capacities to track down and apprehend illegal assets – for example with a competence center for digital financial investigations at the Federal Criminal Police Office. In addition, a joint federal-state platform to combat organized crime is to be created. Faeser wants to strengthen international cooperation, especially in the fight against drug-related crime, with closer cooperation with the countries of origin of cocaine in Latin America being planned.
As a further focus, Faeser, like her predecessor Horst Seehofer (CSU), already presented “clan crime”. “It is absolutely unacceptable that criminal members of clans are isolated in their family structures and live according to their own value system outside of our rule of law,” she said. One should not allow them to despise the rule of law and the law.
The Union criticized Faeser’s concept as “piecework”. It is to be feared that the measures “will not go beyond the stage of mere announcement,” said Hesse’s Interior Minister Peter Beuth (CDU) on behalf of all Union-led interior ministries. The Green coalition partner was not convinced either: “Many of the proposed measures remain too vague or are misplaced,” said Marcel Emmerich, chairman of the Greens in the Bundestag’s Interior Committee. Criticism of the restriction had previously come from the FDP. “A cash limit is a deprivation of liberty,” wrote the FDP member of the Bundestag Frank Schäffler on Twitter. Faeser was confident that the limit would come to 10,000 euros.