Anonymous or numbered accounts, safe-deposit boxes and contracts
Comments and recommendations by the NBB
1. Accounts and safe-deposit boxes opened anonymously or under false names or pseudonyms
Article 20 of the Anti-Money Laundering Law prohibits financial institutions from opening accounts or safe-deposit boxes anonymously or under false names or pseudonyms for their customers.
As entering into a business relationship with a customer requires the latter to be identified, the anonymous opening of accounts or safe-deposit boxes, i.e. accounts or safe-deposit boxes where the identity of the account holder is not known, cannot be permitted. Likewise, no account or safe-deposit box may be opened in a name that does not correspond to the true identity of the customer. However, this prohibition is without prejudice to the possibility to add details corresponding to a legitimate reality to a name, for example a trade name, the name of a subdivision of the customer or a collective name designating customers in a situation of joint ownership. However, the financial institution should carefully ensure that the detail added to the name is easily identifiable as such, and that it is not under any circumstances misleading as to the identity of the customer.
2. Numbered accounts
In accordance with Article 11 of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulation of the NBB, the opening of a numbered account for a customer is subject to the condition that the internal procedures set by the financial institution stipulate (i) the conditions under which these accounts may be opened or these contracts concluded, (ii) the terms of their operation and (iii) that these conditions and terms should be without prejudice to the application of the financial institution's AML/CFTP policies, procedures and internal control measures.
What is permitted, however, is the practice whereby, for reasons of confidentiality requested by the customer, the number of persons within the financial institution who have access to information that can reveal the identity of the customer concerned, are limited, inter alia by solely mentioning the account number on statements of account and other documents. Nevertheless, such a practice may not constitute a hindrance to the application of the rules of identification and of other AML/CFTP measures. In such a case, the identity of the customer has to be known by the (i) senior officer responsible for AML/CFTP, (ii) the AMLCO and (iii) the persons in the financial institution who need that information in order effectively to comply with their due diligence obligations.