Bafin: special watchdog for VTB Bank Europe

Frankfurt / Bonn (dpa) – The financial supervisory authority Bafin keeps a closer eye on the Russian VTB Bank in its business in Germany to avoid money laundering. “On October 1 2021, Bafin ordered VTB Bank (Europe) SE to implement appropriate internal security measures to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing,” announced the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bafin) on Friday.

To monitor the measures, the Bafin “appointed a special representative at the institute with immediate effect”. According to reports, the background to the advance is not current.

VTB Bank (Europe) SE is based in Frankfurt / Main and belongs to the second largest Russian banking group. This is majority owned by the Russian state and, in terms of capital, is one of the 100 largest banks in the world. In the German market, the institute has long focused on business customers, since 2011 it has also been offering financial products to private investors via the online bank VTB Direktbank.

In May of this year, Bafin At the smartphone bank N 26 a special watchdog was used to keep an eye on the institute in matters of combating money laundering. For the first time in September 2018 the financial supervisory authority at Deutsche Bank used this means. In April 2021 the Bafin supplemented the mandate of its special representative at Deutsche Bank and urged Germany’s largest financial institution to make more efforts in the fight against money laundering.

Every year, huge sums of money are generated from dark channels such as drug deals, arms trafficking or forced prostitution into the normal economic cycle. The fight against money laundering is at the top of the list of priorities for Bafin in the next few years, said Bafin President Mark Branson, who has been in office since August, in the Handelsblatt (Friday): “We will significantly increase the number of employees in this area. In recent years, the Bafin, like many other authorities in Europe, was somewhat underinvested in this area. Particularly in the case of banks with an increased risk of money laundering, we will ensure that their control systems are properly calibrated in order to detect and prevent illegal transactions. ”

He had the impression that the topic of money laundering prevention in many European countries had been underestimated, said Branson. Born in Britain, who previously headed the Swiss financial supervisory authority Finma, announced overall tougher action against financial companies: “Bafin must have the courage to make unpleasant decisions, even if we do not have perfect information and if this involves certain risks.” Not deciding and not waiting is often more risky for customers and the stability of the financial system.

“My message is clear: We need to be willing to test boundaries from time to time,” emphasized Branson. “If there is a grievance, we have to do something, even if this issue is not clearly regulated in the law.” The German financial supervisory authority based in Bonn and Frankfurt was heavily criticized in the course of the Wirecard scandal. Neither the Bafin nor the EY auditors had noticed the billions in fraud allegedly running for years by the now insolvent payment service provider. The then Bafin President Felix Hufeld and the Vice President of the authority, Elisabeth Roegele, had to vacate their posts as a result.

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