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Belgian businesses must up their game in the fight against money laundering

21 October 2020

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Belgium’s fight against money laundering rages on, as the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) strengthens its focus on increased compliance. This means that businesses across various sectors will now need to adhere to a range of stricter anti-money laundering (AML) and know your client (KYC) obligations.

In doing so, Belgium is aligning with the European Commission’s recently announced efforts – however Belgium may also be opening itself up to additional battles. Either way, it’s clear that the fight against money laundering will remain on the agenda for a long time. You can read more about the Commission’s efforts in this article.

These efforts are likely to be a reaction to the Belgian Football Association’s recent money laundering exploits. But as of 15 August 2020, it isn’t just Belgium’s professional football clubs and football agents that will need to conform to the stricter anti-money laundering rules: art and antique dealers, virtual currency exchanges, tax advisers, real estate agents, and more, will be under the watchful eye of the regulator.

Of course, financial services companies should already be familiar with anti-money laundering rules – and they should realise that they aren’t taken lightly. Now, more than ever, businesses need to make sure that they comply with the FSMA’s regulations. It is critical that companies obtain enough information about their customers or clients, while ensuring that the activities they perform are legitimate. A client must be accepted by the authorities before any service can be provided. These acceptance conditions are subject to the European AML/KYC framework, which continues to develop.

Managing the burden

The effort required by companies to stay compliant is often deemed onerous. Data needs to be revised on a regular basis to make sure it meets the required quality standards, and this data analysis needs a dedicated compliance team with in-depth knowledge. In most companies, these AML/KYC processes are performed manually and can be very time-consuming – especially when ownership structures are especially complex. And as the FSMA increases its focus on this area, regulated companies may expect increased checks from them, to assess their procedures and AML/KYC files.

These developments aim to create more transparency in entity structures and ensure that risk assessment is done consistently, while automatically reflecting any changes in the risk classification. At Intertrust Group, we believe that this should enable companies to limit the costs related to manual AML/KYC processes, but also to ensure that the quality of the data meets the required standard and stays up to date.

We meet our clients’ needs by assisting them from the initial client acceptance. We also provide assistance with remediation, helping to identify and fill any gaps in a client’s AML/KYC data and procedures. Our AML/KYC expertise is backed by an optimal blend of proprietary and leading vendor technology, which makes our offering truly comprehensive. If you’d like to learn more about how Intertrust Group can help you, click here.