According to an article published by Spanish newspaper El País on May 12, 2014 the Spanish government is to create an extensive database monitoring Spanish bank accounts. The administration is following the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 by initiative of the G7. Banks in Spain will have to supply information of all personal and business current accounts, savings accounts and fixed-term accounts of Spanish citizens and residents. The program will be managed by the State Secretary’s Office for the Economy and Support for Business. The declared goal of the program is to fight money laundering and funding for terrorist activities, nevertheless it has provoked objections by judges, banking associations and the press. Judges to El País expressed their concern the information contained in the database might be used politically. Furthermore, objections were raised that the program will be used as a way to bypass court authorization. The Spanish banking association AEB brought up doubts that the new rules might affect confidentiality of their customer’s data. El País itself spoke of “massive control” characterizing the database as an instrument to store account information of nearly every Spanish citizen. So far, it has not been defined who exactly will have access to the accumulated information and under which conditions. Possible users of the database are the Tax Office, the military, the General Council of the Judiciary and the secret service. What has been mentioned is that information requests will be restricted and documented. Also, unlimited, generic searches will not be allowed. The Economy Ministry will implement the program in the upcoming two years.
Nicolai Behr is a compliance and dispute resolution attorney in Baker & McKenzie’s Munich office. He is a member of the steering committee of GlobalComplianceNews, a compliance news website with global reach moderated by Baker & McKenzie. He is a member of the committee "International" of the German Institute for Compliance. Dr. Behr is a regular speaker on compliance and white collar topics.