Germany is considered an El Dorado for criminals who want to launder their money, a study for the Finance Ministry has found.
Money laundering deals that take place outside of the finance sector go largely undetected in Germany - meaning a large proportion of all illegal business is never found, the report claims.
These illegal transactions take place in the housing market, car trading and on the art market - and between 15,000 and 28,000 are believed to take place every single year.
The report estimates that the volume of money laundered in Germany each year, including in the gastronomy and betting sectors, is more than €100 billion - roughly double the number that was previously assumed.
Professor Kai-D. Bussmann, from the Martin Luther University in Halle, who conducted the research, said “the total volume of money laundering in the financial and non-financial sectors in Germany taken together exceeds €50 billion and is probably more than €100 billion per year."
The Finance Ministry recently admitted that there are serious deficiencies in the fight against money laundering, which is largely conducted at the state level.
Germany is particularly attractive as a location for money laundering because of its economic robustness, with most of the money to be laundered coming from abroad, the report claims.
As a countermeasure the ministry is considering imposing an upper limit of €5,000 on the amount of money one can pay in cash in a single transaction. But, when the plans were announced in February they were met with a fierce public backlash.
Rather than a necessary measure to fight organized crime, many people saw it as an attempt by the state to increase its ability to pry into citizens’ personal affairs.