"Germany is a money laundering paradise": Minister of Finance criticizes handling of large loophole
Created: 12/14/2022, 1:20 p.m
By: Julia Hawener
The Wirecard scandal brought numerous gaps in German financial supervision to light.
As Finance Minister Danyal Bayaz says in an interview, the issue of money laundering is still not taken seriously enough.
Stuttgart - It was the biggest financial scandal in Europe since World War II: The Wirecard company, which had gained a place in the German share index (DAX) at record speed, apparently collapsed under the weight of its success lie when suddenly almost two billion euros were missing.
Investors were stunned.
Mainly because, in addition to politicians who had supported the company, the financial supervisory authority BaFin had not noticed anything about the alleged criminal activities.
"We really made a fool of ourselves," says Baden-Württemberg's Finance Minister Danyal Bayaz (Greens) in a podcast interview with
And in his opinion, the scandal primarily highlighted a large gap in the German financial system, which is "still not taken seriously enough", as BW24 reports.
According to Bayaz, the money laundering problem is dealt with “much too laxly”.
According to Bayaz, an economic scandal of this magnitude should not have happened.
It was "too big, too blatant" and "smoke could be seen for years", but apparently nobody was interested in the fire.
Research by the Financial Times, for example, revealed as early as spring 2019 that Wirecard's balance sheets had been embellished and bogus trading was being carried out with subsidiaries in Asia.
But now it has happened and there is nothing more one can do than learn from previous mistakes, says the Minister of Finance in the
There is still a lot that needs to be done on one topic in particular: "I still have the impression that Germany is a money laundering paradise," says Bayaz.
And although Wirecard itself was a huge "money laundering machine" according to the finance minister, this problem is being approached "much too laxly".
Bayaz does not know the extent to which the company has concealed amounts of money of illegal origin: "The whole issue has not yet been fully understood." However, there have always been indications that people ran out of the company with plastic bags full of cash.
According to the Finance Minister, it has not yet been clarified where this money could have ended up.
And the question of how such machinations in such a well-known and large company could not be noticed during audits remains.
The subject of money laundering in Germany is being approached "much too laxly", says Baden-Württemberg's Finance Minister Bayaz.
© dpa/Bernd Weißbrod
As Bayaz tells
, he suspects that the problem was, among other things, that Wirecard was not a bank in the traditional sense, but a technology group.
As a result, BaFin did not feel responsible, but the district government of Lower Bavaria.
"And it should be able to somehow monitor such a large global company?", he says, and at the same time answers his own question: In the end, with logic like that, nobody really cares.
"It can't be a circumstance": Bayaz criticizes Lindner for the cash limit
From Bayaz's point of view, Wirecard has shed light on this problem of money laundering, but it will probably not be completely eliminated in the near future.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) has announced that there should be a central authority so that such a case can no longer simply slip through the system.
But Lindner does not want to introduce something like a cash limit.
The Baden-Württemberg finance minister sees this as a major problem, because it would allow oligarchs and other criminals to continue buying condominiums with cash.
"It can't be a circumstance," he says in an interview.
Today's Minister of Finance used to work as a management consultant and moved into the Bundestag for the Greens in 2017.
However, he only became well known there through the Wirecard scandal, because he was at the forefront of efforts to clarify the billion-euro scam by the payment service provider near Munich.
An elementary stage in this area started last week, because since then, ex-CEO Markus Braun, among others, has had to answer in court.