Notaries have always made an important contribution to the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing by reliably verifying and documenting the identity of the parties, by storing notarial instruments for many years and submitting tax receipts to the tax authorities. Through cooperation with the land registry office and the commercial register the notarial activity leads to high transparency. Many potential criminals are therefore deterred from the outset from being involved in transactions requiring notarial authentication.
Furthermore, notaries are subject to the obligations arising from the Money Laundering Act. Accordingly, they have to comply with specific duties to identify the parties and report suspicious cases. In the case of real estate transactions, notaries must verify, through documentation of the ownership and control structure, the legitimacy of the beneficial owner of involved companies. Authentication must be refused if a party does not submit the necessary documentation. The notary is also prohibited from performing an authentication if a foreign company wants to acquire real estate located in Germany or shares in a real estate holding company, but is not registered in the transparency register. Parties that are not sufficiently transparent are thus precluded from the authentication procedure from the outset and prevented from acquiring real estate. Furthermore, the Money Laundering Act stipulates that notaries report, as a rule, certain facts with specific relevance to money laundering in the real estate sector to the Financial Intelligence Unit. Notaries therefore make an important contribution to the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, especially in the real estate sector.