Uniform Rules in Europe and the Role of the AFCA: Contents of the BaFin Symposium on Money Laundering Supervision
January 20, 2022
On December 15, 2021, the annual BaFin symposium on money laundering supervision was held virtually with around 1,000 participants. The event shows which topics are currently in focus in the fight against money laundering.
In the following, we have therefore summarized the most important topics of the symposium. From the perspective of CURENTIS, the following 4 topics were the focus:
- AFCA as a driving force in the fight against money laundering
- BaFin takes more proactive approach to money laundering supervision
- Advocating the establishment of a European money laundering supervisory authority
- Significance of SARs in the fight against money laundering
In connection with money laundering prevention, the AFCA (Anti Financial Crime Alliance) was one of the topics discussed. Its role as a "driving force" in the fight against money laundering was highlighted. By publishing white papers and other work results, the AFCA succeeds in providing an additional tool for obligated parties in the fight against money laundering.
Furthermore, an organizational and personnel upgrade of BaFin was announced. In this way, the authority intends to take a more proactive approach to money laundering supervision in the future and act with greater foresight. The prevention of money laundering was included in BaFin's medium-term goals.
Another focus of the symposium with regard to the fight against money laundering concerned the EU Commission and its anti-money laundering legislative package published in July 2021. In this context, BaFin President Mark Branson underlined the need for Europe-wide, uniform rules in the fight against money laundering and expressed his support for the establishment of a European money laundering supervisory authority. According to Caterina Contini, an officer in BaFin's money laundering prevention unit, the package will ensure better networking among the various players. However, she believes there is still room for improvement in terms of data protection rules.
In addition, money laundering suspicious activity reports were another focus of discussion at the symposium. Moderator Bettina Volprecht put forward an interesting thesis in this context: "A SAR is the result of risks that are not sufficiently under control. She then had the participants vote. A total of 570 conference participants took part in the vote. Ninety-two percent voted "strongly disagree," while eight percent voted "strongly agree." It was emphasized that this is a multi-faceted issue. "Reporting suspicions means that the warning systems are working," said Executive Director Birgit Rodolphe. However, there are other aspects to consider - including the quality of the SAR. "A good SAR is an effective tool in the fight against money laundering." Volpcht's co-moderator Dr. Jens Fürhoff from the Money Laundering Prevention Department was of the same opinion and therefore voted with a clear "yes".
Suspicious activity reports also emerged as a topic in the panel discussion. According to Martina Mietzner, money laundering officer at BayernLB, balancing the various demands and formal requirements of stakeholder groups is a challenge in the day-to-day work of money laundering prevention. Markus Leimann, head of the focal public prosecutor's office for combating white-collar crime in Hesse, based in Frankfurt am Main, emphasized the importance of the interplay between money laundering officers, FIUs and law enforcement. Moderator Fürhoff ended the panel discussion between expertise from the field, FIU, law enforcement and academia with an insightful observation: it also helps in money laundering prevention and prosecution to understand each other's perspective.
CURENTIS AG will continue to monitor the extent to which the findings of the expert conference on money laundering supervision will influence the further implementation of money laundering prevention this year and will keep you informed in this regard in the future.