Introduction

Background

In recent years, the preventive framework for combating money laundering and terrorist financing (“AML/CFT”) has undergone significant developments at the international, European and Belgian level.

The main developments are related to the publication:

  • of the International Standards of the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation, revised in February 2012 (“the 40 FATF Recommendations”);
  • of the fourth AML/CFT Directive, i.e. Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC (“Directive 2015/849”); since amended by the fifth AML/CFT Directive, i.e. Directive (EU) 2018/843 of 30 May 2018 (“Directive 2018/843”) (see the unofficial coordinated version of 9 July 2018);
  • of the Law of 18 September 2017 on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing and on the restriction of the use of cash (“the Anti-Money Laundering Law”), which transposes the aforementioned Directives (see the unofficial coordinated version);
  • of the Regulation of the National Bank of Belgium (“NBB”) of 21 November 2017 on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, which is applicable to the Belgian financial institutions falling under its supervisory competence (“the Anti-Money Laundering Regulation of the NBB”);

and of the mutual evaluation of Belgium by the FATF in 2014 and 2015.

Please refer to the Explanatory Memorandum of the Anti-Money Laundering Law (general explanation) for an overview of the key changes introduced by the revision in 2012 of the 40 FATF recommendations and by Directive 2015/849 to the European AML/CFT framework, as well as to the results of the evaluation of Belgium by the FATF.

Objectives

This section of the website of the NBB (“AML/CFT website”) has two objectives:

  1. collecting all relevant AML/CFT texts (the Law, regulations,  European and international guidelines, etc.) and grouping them by topic in order to provide financial institutions falling under the competence of the NBB and the public with complete, accessible and regularly updated information on the legal and regulatory AML/CFT obligations of these financial institutions;
  2. specifying any additional comments and recommendations from the NBB for a correct and effective implementation of the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering Law and Regulation by these financial institutions. In this context, it replaces Circular CBFA_2010_09 of 6 April 2010 on customer due diligence, preventing the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering and terrorist financing and preventing the financing of arms proliferation (fully repealed on 21 December 2018).

Methodology

The structure of the AML/CFT website follows that of the Anti-Money Laundering Law as closely as possible

Each page starts with references to the parts of the Anti-Money Laundering Law and of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulation of the NBB that are relevant to financial institutions falling under the supervisory competence of the NBB, as well as to the Belgian, European and international reference documents on the relevant topic, followed by any additional comments and recommendations from the NBB. It should be noted that the Explanatory Memorandum of the Anti-Money Laundering Law of 18 September 2017 and of its successive amending Laws already contains numerous specifications on the manner in which the provisions of the said Law should be interpreted to be implemented effectively. Financial institutions are therefore strongly urged to consult this explanatory memorandum (see the page “Main reference documents”), whether or not it is completed by comments and/or recommendations from the NBB.

The AML/CFT website was developed in multiple stages. At its launch, it contained at least, for each topic covered, the information listed in point (i) of the objectives described above. Subsequently, the NBB has gradually completed the information provided by including any comments and recommendations for the effective implementation of the legal and regulatory obligations (point (ii) of the objectives described above). In addition, it updates this website whenever it deems it necessary, particularly to take into account the evolution of the standards and recommendations of the international bodies competent with regard to AML/CFT, of the European and national legal and regulatory framework, of the interpretation of the rules applicable, etc. An overview of the updates to the website and an archive of its successive versions is available under the “Successive versions of the AML/CFT website” tab at the bottom of the website’s homepage.

Insofar as necessary, attention is drawn to the fact that the NBB’s approach – i.e. having collected all texts relevant to the financial institutions falling under its  supervisory competence (law, regulations, preparatory work, European and international guidelines, etc.) that are applicable with regard to AML/CFT (see the first objective of this website above), in addition to its own comments and recommendations, on this AML/CFT website – is purely educational and informative in nature. As a result, any lack of updates or later updates to one of those texts included on this website are without prejudice to its applicability to financial institutions.

It should also be recalled, where necessary, that other policy documents not covered in the context of this AML/CFT website may be relevant and applicable (notably regarding audit, shareholder structure, governance, outsourcing, etc.). Moreover, this website is without prejudice to the competences of the other authorities that are competent with regard to AML/CFT (CTIF/CFI, FSMA, Treasury, FPS Economy, etc.).

Disclaimer: This English text is an unofficial translation and may not be used as a basis for solving any dispute