If there are facts that suggest that assets in the transaction originate from criminal acts or are related to terrorist financing, a suspicious activity report must be submitted. As a rule, the transaction must be suspended (for the time being).
The reporting obligation applies regardless of the value of the transaction (in the case of goods traders, there is no privilege in this respect as with risk management (Section 4 (5) GwG) and due diligence obligations (Section 10 (6a) GwG)), the type of asset involved (not only for cash transactions!) and the type of payment (no restriction to cash payments for goods traders!). You must immediately send a suspicious activity report to the "Financial Intelligence Unit" (FIU for short) of the General Directorate of Customs as soon as one of the following indications exists:
- The asset associated with a business relationship, brokerage or transaction originates from a criminal offense that could constitute a predicate offense to money laundering,
- A business transaction, a transaction or an asset is related to terrorist financing, or
- The contracting party does not fulfill its disclosure obligation pursuant to Section 11 para. 6 sentence 3 GwG (whether it is acting on behalf of a beneficial owner).
Suspicious circumstances may include in particular
- The type and amount of the transaction or the origin of the assets does not match the customer and his presumed economic circumstances.
- The customer avoids personal contact as far as possible.
- The customer demands anonymity or attempts to conceal their true identity.
- The customer is unable to present any identification or passport and cannot explain this in a comprehensible manner.
- You have doubts about the authenticity of the documents presented.
- The customer evades your inquiries and/or provides inaccurate or incomprehensible information.
- The customer withdraws their contract offer after learning that further research is required.
- The thresholds of EUR 2,000 in cash in precious metals trading (such as gold, silver and platinum), EUR 10,000 in cash and non-cash in trading in works of art and EUR 10,000 in cash in other goods trading are obviously undercut in order to avoid identification.
- The information on the identity of the contracting party or beneficial owner or the payment modalities is corrected several times.
- The payment obligation is fulfilled by third parties ("straw man transaction").
- The market value and sale value of a property differ significantly/conspicuous leeway in purchase price negotiations.
- In the case of real estate: several changes of ownership in series, each time at an increasing price.
- The buyer has no knowledge of a property/no interest in the property's characteristics
Suspicious activity reports pursuant to Sections 43 et seq. GwG must generally be submitted to the FIU in electronic form via the "goAML" application program (see "Online procedure"), which the FIU makes available to obliged entities as a reporting portal. The prerequisite for submitting a SAR is a one-time registration. Registration is possible independently of a SAR (and mandatory from 01.01.2024) and should be done in advance so that action can be taken immediately in the event of suspicion.
The form template can be found on the Internet under "Forms".
Reports by fax are only possible in very limited exceptional cases, particularly in the event of system malfunctions or if you are submitting a SAR for the very first time. You can find all the necessary information on submitting SARs and registering under "Related links".
Consequences of the notifications
I. Initially: No execution of the transaction
After a suspicious activity report has been submitted, the underlying transaction (= transaction within the meaning of Section 1 (5) AMLA) may not initially be carried out unless such a postponement of the transaction would hinder the investigation of a criminal offense. Once a report has been sent, a related transaction may be carried out at the earliest when
- the FIU or the public prosecutor's office have agreed to release the transaction
- the third working day has elapsed after the obliged entity has sent the suspicious activity report without the FIU or the public prosecutor's office having issued a prohibition. Saturdays do not count as working days in the calculation. Please note: Even if no prohibition has been issued by the FIU or the public prosecutor's office, you remain fully responsible for the content of the decision to conclude the transaction or to refuse to conclude the transaction!
Important: You may not inform your contractual partner, the client of the transaction or other third parties that you have submitted a suspicious activity report (Section 47 para. 1 no. 1 GwG)!
II Exemption from responsibility (§ 48 GwG)
If a suspicious activity report or criminal complaint in connection with money laundering or terrorist financing proves to be unfounded, you cannot be held liable (Section 48 AMLA). This does not apply to facts that are proven to be grossly negligent or intentionally false.
III Protection of reporting employees (Section 49 (4) GwG)
If your employees submit a suspicious activity report or if you submit a suspicious activity report as an employee of an obligated party, this must not result in any disadvantages for the existing employment relationship.
You must send the suspicious activity report to the FIU immediately as soon as one of the indications listed under "Prerequisites" is present.
With the help of the "goAML" portal from the United Nations (UN), analysts at the FIU can evaluate correlations with other data from comparable cases more quickly and recognize new money laundering or terrorist financing strategies earlier. It is therefore to be expected that you will receive results earlier than before in the so-called deadline cases, where your planned transactions have been stopped for the time being. This means that if your suspicions are not confirmed, you can release transactions more quickly and complete your business.
Links to more information
Responsible for editing:Bayerisches Staatsministerium des Innern, für Sport und Integration