Tech

Anti-money laundering unit is said to have not passed on information about Wirecard

The detection of the Wirecards scandal was possibly also delayed by an oversight margin: For example, the anti-money laundering unit of the customs did not forward dozens of reports of irregularities at Wirecard to the law enforcement authorities, reports the NDR and the Southgerman newspaper. The authority, also known as the Financial Intelligence Unit, or FIU for short, confirmed to the media that it had received a total of 97 suspicious transaction reports since 2017 that could be related to the allegations. According to the reports, only a fraction of this went to the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office and the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office.

According to a spokesman for the authorities, 50 suspicious transaction reports have now been passed on – that has happened According to NDR and SZ but only after the scandal became known. A spokesman for the Munich 1 public prosecutor’s office said that only “two reports from the FIU had been received” before June 2020. Both would then also have triggered investigations. In total, the FIU is said to have received 1000 reports in connection with Wirecard. After a renewed examination in June 2020, 97 of them were identified that contained suspicious features of criminal offenses such as falsification of accounts or breach of trust.

The FIU is the German central office for the acceptance, collection and evaluation of reports on suspicious financial transactions. The reports are then forwarded to law enforcement officers if necessary. The authority was originally located in the Federal Criminal Police Office, but in 2017 changed to the responsibility of the customs and is therefore subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Finance. Since then, accusations against the unit have been increasing that suspicious transaction reports are passed on too late or not at all.

2019 became known aboutthat the FIU is sitting on a backlog of over 36,000 not or not fully processed reports on potentially criminal financial transactions. Sometimes there were mishaps such as a reporting page that did not work for a year, because of which tens of thousands of reports were received by fax, which then had to be entered manually into the computer system by student assistants. Since February 2020 the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office investigates the authority because of the suspicion of obstruction of punishment in the office – here too there are reports of suspicious transaction reports that have not been forwarded.

“It is urgent to clarify whether the FIU withheld information that would have allowed the criminal investigators in Bavaria to recognize the scandal earlier,” commented the left-wing politician Fabio de Masi on the case. According to NDR, the chairman of the Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter Sebastian Fiedler described the process as evidence of a “security-political catastrophe”. According to the report, the FIU defended itself that the allegations against Wirecard AG were not related to the core mission of the FIU.

The payment service provider Wirecard, now insolvent, is caught in a massive accounting scandal and in June admitted air bookings of 1.9 billion euros. The Munich public prosecutor’s office assumes a “commercial gang fraud” since 2015. More than three billion euros could be lost. Central questions are now also when exactly the government knew about irregularities and whether they did too little about them.

At the end of June, the first special meeting of the finance committee in the Bundestag on Wirecard took place, but it brought little new information. A second special session on the subject is scheduled for August 31 and September 1. There should be no shortage of topics to talk about.


(axk)

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