Government launches cash ban on real estate purchases

Fri 7th Oct, 2022

Photo by Tierra MallorcaThe German government wants to ban cash transactions in real estate purchases. This is to be regulated as part of the Sanctions Enforcement Act II, according to a paper circulated on Friday by the responsible ministries of finance and economics. Anonymous transactions are thus to be prevented in the future. This should also make it easier to enforce sanctions against Russian oligarchs. However, the traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP had planned the measure anyway. "Notaries are to monitor the ban on cash payments and have to report violations."

According to government circles, the change in the law should take place by the end of the year. The cabinet is expected to give the green light in mid-October, he said. A draft bill is currently being coordinated within the government.

The planned law will create a central office for sanctions enforcement at the federal level. The paper states that this office will coordinate all authorities in Germany on this issue. It would initially be attached to Customs, but would later be absorbed into the new federal authority for combating financial crime planned by Finance Minister Christian Lindner.

Over the next few years, FDP leader Lindner wants to combine sanctions enforcement under one roof with the fight against money laundering, which is considered largely ineffective in Germany. Government officials concede that when it comes to enforcing sanctions, especially in the case of real estate, it is often not clear from the roughly 400 land registers which individuals end up benefiting from the property. Nested company constructions in particular make it difficult to keep track.

In the spring, under the impression of the Russian attack on Ukraine, the Bundestag had passed an initial law to improve the enforcement of sanctions. This was intended to intensify cooperation between the relevant authorities. They are to be better able to obtain information already available elsewhere. Their responsibilities will also be expanded. There are also to be better opportunities to identify and seize assets.

Sanctioned persons will have to disclose their assets under threat of fines and up to one year's imprisonment. However, according to government representatives, this has hardly happened so far. Assets of Russian oligarchs worth 4.8 billion euros have been blocked so far. With the Sanctions Enforcement Act II, the government now hopes for structural improvements.

Photo by Tierra Mallorca


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