Real estate money laundering in
Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein
Fabian Maximilian Johannes Teichmann
Teichmann International AG, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Purpose –The purpose of thispaper is to illustrate how criminals launder money in the realestate business
in Austria,Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Design/methodology/approach –A qualitative content analysis of 58 semi-standardized expert
interviews with both criminalsand prevention experts and a quantitative survey of 184 compliance ofﬁcers
led to the identiﬁcationof concrete techniques of money launderingin the real estate sector.
Findings –Real estate companies in German-speakingcountries in Europe continue to be extraordinarily
suitable for money laundering. In particular, they can be used for placement, layering and integration,
combined with violationsof the tax code. Most importantly, however, they are the vehicles for one of the very
few proﬁtablemethods of laundering money.
Research limitations/implications –As the qualitative ﬁndings are based on semi-standardized
interviews,these are limited to the 58 interviewees’perspectives.
Practical implications –The identiﬁcation of gaps in existing anti-money laundering mechanisms is
meant to provide compliance ofﬁcers, law enforcement agencies and legislators with valuable insights into
Originality/value –While the existing literaturefocuses on organizations ﬁghting money laundering and
on the improvement of anti-moneylaundering measures, this paper describes how money launderersoperate
to avoid gettingcaught. Both prevention and criminal perspectivesare taken into account.
Keywords Money laundering, Real estate, Compliance
Paper type Research paper
It is often claimed that laundering illegally obtained money is expensive. In fact, money
launderers are often willing to spend a signiﬁcant portion of their incriminated assets on
laundering activities. Prominent examples include, but are by no means limited to,
running restaurants, bars or nightclubs. In these examples, money launderers pretend to
have more revenues than they actually have and, thereby, place pecuniary proceeds from
illegal activities into legitimate businesses. However, this implies that they need to
maintain a certain infrastructure, which usually has its own associated costs, and,
ultimately, they have to pay taxes on the money they place into their businesses that act
as fronts for their illegal activities. The laundering costs can easily exceed 30 per cent of
the assets laundered.
Money laundering, however, does not necessarily have to be expensive, but can
actually be quite proﬁtable. In fact, this research paper will illustrate how criminals
operate to launder money in the real estate sector in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein
No external research funding has been received for this study.
Journalof Money Laundering
Vol.21 No. 3, 2018
© Emerald Publishing Limited
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