Comments and recommendations by the NBB
In accordance with Article 10 of the Anti-Money Laundering Law, financial institutions should define and set up an internal whistleblowing system allowing their staff, agents and, in the case of electronic money institutions, their distributors to inform the AMLCO and the senior AML/CFTP officer of breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering Law through a specific, independent and anonymous channel.
In practice, the NBB expects financial institutions to implement the following two measures:
- on the one hand, define and implement a clear procedure to be followed by their staff and agents or distributors that precisely indicates (i) what the internal AML/CFTP alerts can relate to, (ii) what are the different steps of the procedure and (iii) what protection is offered to persons making use of this internal whistleblowing system; and
- on the other hand, put in place a secure reporting system to anonymously (without resorting to the normal hierarchical channels) report breaches of AML/CFTP obligations to the AMLCO and the senior AML/CFTP officer.
This internal AML/CFTP whistleblowing system may, if necessary, be integrated into the internal "Compliance" whistleblowing system which might already have been set up pursuant to the sectoral prudential supervision laws for infringements of the financial institution's standards and code of conduct, provided that (i) the recipients of AML/CFTP alerts are the AMLCO and the senior AML/CFTP officer (besides, where applicable, the head of the Compliance function if the latter is not the AMLCO) and (ii) the communication channels effectively ensure the anonymity of the whistleblowers.
Furthermore, in accordance with Article 11, third paragraph of the Anti-Money Laundering Law, the AMLCO should, as part of his education and training programme, ensure that the staff members of the financial institution concerned, its agents and distributors are aware of this internal AML/CFTP whistleblowing system.
Finally, as stipulated in the Anti-Money Laundering Law, the principle of proportionality is applicable. This principle will be reflected in the level of sophistication of the procedure to be adopted and the reporting system to be put in place, as described above. The latter may be less sophisticated in financial institutions that are smaller in size or have a lower ML/FT risk profile.