The role of the various authorities and institutions in Austria
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 responsible for the supervision of credit institutions, insurance undertakings, pension funds (Pensionskassen), corporate provision funds, investment funds and investment services providers, as well as payment service providers, electronic money institutions and alternative investment fund managers. The FMA checks in this context the compliance with the legal obligations with to due diligence obligations in connection with the combatting of money laundering and terrorist financing. In the event that these obligations are breached, the FMA takes the necessary steps.
In this regard, the FMA may conduct on-site inspections at the supervised entities. Within such an inspection an evaluation is conducted in relation to what extent the existing systems and control mechanisms of a supervised entity are suitable for the purposes of preventing money laundering and terrorist financing.
The FMA conducts a supervisory investigation procedure in the event that there is evidence to suggest that a supervised entity does not adequately with due diligence or notification requirements in relation to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. In the event that the FMA detects that legal provisions are currently being contravened, then actions are taken to ensure the restoration of legal compliance or to address the shortcomings. The entity is requested to define and implement measures to address these shortcomings, with the FMA subsequently checking the suitability and adequacy of these measures. In the event that there is a suspicion of systemic or severe violations against the due diligence obligations for combatting of money laundering and terrorist financing, administrative penal proceedings are initiated by the Financial Market Authority.
The Financial Intelligence Unit at the Criminal Intelligence Service conducts investigations following notifications of the suspicion of money laundering. These notifications are submitted 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 multidiscplinary 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 finance sector, e.g. the Banking Act (BWG – Bankwesengesetz), the Insurance Supervision Act 2016 (VAG 2016 – Versicherungsaufsichtsgesetz 2016) or the Securities Supervision Act 2007 (WAG 2007 – Wertpapieraufsichtsgesetz 2007), in order to address the latest international standards on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. The ministry also represents Austria in international fora. The ministry, among other responsibilities, heads the Austrian delegation in 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 Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW – Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Wirtschaft) and the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA – Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres) as well as the Chambers of Lawyers, Professional Accountants and Tax Advisors are also active in relation to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing in Austria.