The role of the various authorities and institutions in Austria

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Various authorities and institutions are involved in the prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing in Austria. The following are involved:

  • The Financial Market Authority
  • The Federal Intelligence Unit (Geldwäschemeldestelle) at the Criminal Intelligence Service Austria
  • The Federal Agency for State Protection and Counter Terrorism
  • The Federal Ministry of Justice
  • The Federal Ministry of Finance
  • The Oesterreichische Nationalbank
  • Other Ministries and Chambers

The Financial Market Authority is the competent authority for the supervision of credit institutions and financial institutions pursuant to Article 2 nos. 1 and 2 FM-GwG. In addition to classical credit and financial institutions in accordance with the Austrian Banking Act (BWG; Bankwesengesetz) such institutions also including insurance undertakings, occupational severance and retirement funds, investment firms and investment services providers, payment institutions, electronic money institutions, alternative investment fund managers as well as branches or branch establishments of such entities with their registered office in Austria. The FMA checks in this context the compliance with the legal obligations with to due diligence obligations in connection with the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. In the event that these obligations are breached, the FMA takes the necessary steps

The Financial Intelligence Unit at the Criminal Intelligence Service Austria conducts investigations following notifications of the suspicion of money laundering. These notifications are submitted both by the institutions that are obliged to make notifications (such as credit institutions, insurance undertakings and investment firms) as well as by other professions that are required to submit notifications (e.g. lawyers, notaries, tax advisors or tradespeople such as jewellers).

The Financial Intelligence Unit regularly holds events aimed at heightening awareness among those professions required to submit notifications. Such events often adopt a multidisciplinary approach. Ad hoc investigations in relation to terrorist financing are conducted jointly with the Federal Agency for State Protection and Counter Terrorism (BVT).

If a suspicious activity report relates to an institution or profession that is required to submit notifications, this is referred to the Federal Agency for State Protection and Counter Terrorism.

The Federal Ministry of Justice is responsible for the ongoing development of criminal law and regulations for lawyers and notaries. The courts and the public prosecutor’s offices are responsible for prosecution.

The Federal Ministry of Finance adapts the relevant laws for the financial sector, such as the Financial Markets Anti-Money Laundering Act (FM-GwG) and the Beneficial Owners Register Act (WiEReG), in order to take into account the latest international standards and European rules on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. The Ministry of Finance is also represented in international committees, and inter alia leads the Austrian delegation to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The Oesterreichische Nationalbank is responsible under the Foreign Exchange Act (DevisenG – Devisengesetz) or the Sanctions Act 2010 (SanktG – Sanktionengesetz 2010) for imposing of restrictions on international payment transactions.

Furthermore, the Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW; Bundesministerium für Digitalisierung und Wirtschaftsstandort) and the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA; Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres) as well as the Chambers of Lawyers, Notaries and Tax Advisors are also active in relation to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing in Austria.