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Anti-money laundering

The Belgian Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation dates from 18 September 2017 and replaces the previous anti-money laundering law of 11 January 1993.

AWDC has made a draft anti-money laundering policy (AML policy) which can be used by Belgian diamond traders to explain what their AML policy is. This document is a written documentation of how the company implements the AML in their own company.  This document can be downloaded through the overview page of the compliance documents on the AWDC website, and below on this page under the section 'Documents'.

Below, the most frequently asked questions about AML are answered by the AML & Compliance Helpdesk. For the latest update about this matter, we recommend traders to attend our AML & compliance seminars (www.awdc.be/events).

1. What is a diamond trader? Does this include brokers and jewelers?

All traders with diamond trading activities (traders dealing in loose diamonds, as well as diamond brokers and polishers) are obliged to register with the Licensing Service of the Federal Public Service Economy (in Dutch abbreviated as FOD Economie). Diamond jewelers are not obliged to register. However, jewelers that want to import loose diamonds to set in jewelry and thus trade in loose diamonds, do need a registration number. 

All Belgian registered diamond companies are registered on the website www.registereddiamondcompanies.be and are assigned a unique registration number. Through the search engine of this website, one can search on a company name, registration number or VAT number, to see whether the company is indeed registered to trade in diamonds.

All registered diamond traders are subject to various legal obligations (such as obligations under the anti-money laundering legislation, yearly stock declarations and Kimberley Process declarations in case of rough diamond transactions, etc.).

2. What is my registration number and where do I find it?

Every diamond trader based in Belgium is obliged to register with the Licensing Service of the Federal Public Service Economy) in Antwerp, after which they receive a unique registration number. This number is not the same as your VAT number. The registration number can be found by using the search engine on www.registereddiamondcompanies.be, by typing in your company name or VAT number.

3. Is the anti-money laundering legislation applicable to me?

The latest Belgian anti-money laundering law dates from 18 September 2017. Diamond traders fall under the scope of this legislation since 2004. The legislation is also applicable to other sectors, e.g. banks and financial institutions, investment firms, accountants, lawyers, public notaries etc.

This means that all registered diamond traders trading in loose diamonds need to comply with the Belgian AML law.

If one only invoices his commission (when one is a diamond broker), one does not fall under the scope of the anti-money laundering legislation and is thus not subjected to the legal obligations arising from this legislation. However, one does have to submit his annual AML activity report (see question below).

4. Why does this law not apply in other countries?

The Belgian AML law applies to the Belgian jurisdiction (Belgian territory) only. Whereas certain elements of the legislation can be found in other legal frameworks as well, it cannot be considered internationally applicable.

Belgium is a frontrunner when it comes to compliance and transparency, especially in the Belgian diamond industry. Compliance initiatives on the international level and in other diamond trade centers do exist, which creates a more level playing field.

5. What is money laundering and terrorist financing?

Money laundering is every action whereby one hides the illicit origin of assets or money and/or every action that helps the offender escape from the legal consequences of his actions, although one knew or was supposed to know the illicit origin of the money or assets.

Money laundering always has an underlying crime, such as drug trade, corruption, illegal trade (for example : trading rough diamonds without a Kimberley Process certificate).

Financing of terrorism is gathering and/or providing funds or other assets, by any means, directly or indirectly, with the intention or knowledge that they (are to) be used, in full or in part, by a terrorist (organization), even without any link to a specific terrorist act. , whereby there is at least knowledge that the funds will be used (in part) by or for a terrorist, a terrorist organization or a terrorist offence.

6. In short, what do I have to do according to the AML law?

  • Identify your clients, verify their KYC information and update this information
  • Perform risk analyses
  • Appoint a (or more) AML officer(s) in your company
  • Notify suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit (in Dutch abbreviated as CFI) or to the SPOC of AWDC
  • Submit your annual AML activity report to the License Service of the Federal Public Service of Economy
  • Respect the cash limit of 3000 EUR in Belgium

To be fully informed on what you  need to do to comply with the AML legislation as a diamond trader, attend one of our AML & Compliance seminars to which Belgian diamond traders can participate for free. You can find an overview of the upcoming seminars through www.awdc.be/events.

7. Do I need to submit the annual AML activity report?

All registered diamond traders have the obligation to submit their annual AML activity report, relating to the activities in the previous year (deadline 31st of March every year).

If you are registered with the FPS Economy for your diamond-related activities, but you are not a diamond trader (e.g. you are a broker, a polisher, a jeweler…), then you also need to submit the form, but only partly. You only need to fill in the form until the question “Are you a Belgian registered diamond company?”, where you can answer ‘no’ and indicate what your activities were. You need not fill in the form further, but you do have to submit it.

Even if you are a diamond trader but didn’t have any activity in the past year, you still have to complete and submit the AML activity report. However, the form only has to be completed partly until the question : “Have you had any commercial transactions in diamonds in the last year?”. You can answer ‘no’ to this question and only still need to fill in the questions under the section on your company’s Organization and Internal Monitoring. The other sections, you need not fill in. You do have to submit the form.

You can fill in the AML activity online and submit it through the website www.registereddiamondcompanies.be (if you don’t know your login details, contact the AML & Compliance Helpdesk) or in paper and send it to License Service of the Federal Public Service of Economy to the following  address: FOD Economie - Theaterbuilding - Bureau 11.06 , Italiëlei 124, bus 71 - 2000 Antwerpen, for the attention of Daniel Daeyaert.

Don’t forget to make a copy after filling in the form, in case your bookkeeper needs a copy.

By logging in to your account on www.registereddiamondcompanies.be, you can consult the online submitted AML activity reports of your company and take more copies of those should you wish so.

8. Do I need an AML officer in my company and what are my obligations as an AML officer?

In principle, the legislation requires companies to have at least two anti-money laundering officers. One should be at the highest level of the company (director and/or manager) who monitors the implementation of and compliance with the anti-money laundering legislation. Aside of that, another anti-money laundering officer should in principle be appointed, who is charged with the practical execution of and monitoring on the (internal) organization and implementation of the anti-money laundering law and the related recommendations. This anti-money laundering officer needs to have the necessary reliability, expertise, experience, hierarchical level and competences to perform these functions in an effective, independent and honest manner.

If one has a small organization, it is possible to appoint only one anti-money laundering officer: someone at the highest level (director and/or manager) who his charged with the practical execution and monitoring on the (internal) organization and implementation of the anti-money laundering law.

The AML officer’s task is to implement the AML law in the company’s business (conduct KYC and risk analyses), to manage the company’s AML policy, to raise awareness on the AML legislation among other staff members in the company, to notify suspicious activities to the Financial Intelligence Unit (in Dutch abbreviated as CFI).  

The AML officer is the primary contact person for the CFI and the License Service of the Federal Public Service of Economy (in Dutch abbreviated as FOD Economie), for example in case of an inspection. Therefore it is important to appoint a person in your office who is usually present in the office.

The ultimate (legal) responsibility for AML compliance remains with the directors of the company (AML officers at the highest level), except when the AML officer would maliciously misconduct.

9. Do I need to attend an AML seminar and do I need a certificate of participation?

The law requires you to stay updated about the AML legislation. Therefore, AWDC organizes seminars on a monthly basis with the latest updates on the AML legislation and compliance topics. After having attended a seminar, you obtain a certificate of attendance.

In case you would be subject to an administrative control by the Licensing Service of the Federal Public Service Economy (in Dutch abbreviated as FOD Economie), the certificate proves that you attended a seminar and have knowledge of the AML legislation. It is therefore definitely wise to keep this certificate at your office and present it in case of an inspection.

AWDC recommends that you attend an AML seminar every year to stay updated on the latest information.

To register for a seminar, go to www.awdc.be/events.

10. How do I get started to comply with AML legislation?

We strongly recommend all diamond traders to attend an AML & Compliance seminar organized by AWDC to be fully informed on what exactly they should do to comply with the AML legislation and to get practical advice on how to implement this (www.awdc.be/events).

One should start by drafting the company’s anti-money laundering policy (template can be found on the overview page of the compliance documents on our website, and below on this page under the section 'Documents'.) and implementing the different elements that are described there. This means you should start creating a file for each client in which you assemble their identification data and all information you have related to the client (supporting KYC documents, communication with the client, risk analysis report made of the client if there are any medium/higher risk elements, Bureau Van Dijk search report etc.). This file can be either kept in paper files or be stored digitally on your computer.

Just bear in mind that the Licensing Service of the Federal Public Service Economy carries out spot checks in the sector, which can be announced or unannounced. You will need to be able to provide all the requested information easily when they perform a control at your offices.

11. How do I check the identity of my client and verify this?

A. If your client is a Belgian registered diamond trader, you can search your client through the search engine on www.registereddiamondcompanies.be, click on the ‘Print’ button and save or print this document. It is sufficient if you have this document from this client – you need no further documents from them.

Of course, you do still need to make a risk analysis of your client relationship and if you notice something suspicious, please notify the SPOC of AWDC or the Financial Intelligence Unit (in Dutch abbreviated as CFI).

B. If your client is a Belgian or foreign natural person (which means, a private person without a company), you ask for:

  • a valid photo ID/passport, or;
  • a valid proof of registration in the aliens register, or;
  • a valid document issued by a Belgian public authority which states that this person is residing legally in Belgium.

You should obtain their first and last name, date and place of birth, and if possible, their address. This information should corelate to what is mentioned on the supporting identity document that the provide to you.

C. If your client is a Belgian company but is not registered as a diamond trader (e.g. a jewelry company), or a foreign company, you need to obtain the following information:

  • The company name,
  • The company address,
  • The list with the names of the directors,
  • The list with the names of the ultimate beneficial owners,
  • The provisions on powers to bind the legal entity.

You should verify this information on the basis of the following supporting documents:

  • The most recent version of the bylaws or the most complete extract of the statutes which are published in the attachments to the Belgian Official Gazette; or a proof of incorporation of the company;
  • A supporting document from which the capacity of director can be concluded (In Belgium for example a publication in the Belgian Official Gazette, an extract of the KBO (Central Enterprise Database) or of the annual accounts at the National Bank of Belgium, or through the website of the Federal Public Service Justice);
  • Publication of the representative authorities of the legal entity (In Belgium for example in the Belgian Official Gazette).

If the legal entity is based abroad, you should verify the information on the basis of similar supporting documents as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, in one of the national languages or additionally ask for a written summary of the content of the documents (e.g. per mail) in a language which you understand. You should make a copy of these documents and save these.

 

To facilitate this process for Belgian diamond traders, AWDC has drafted a client letter in different languages, which contains a fill-in form which Belgian traders can provide to their clients, so that the clients receives appropriate information about why this information is asked and so that the diamond trader is sure that he has obtained all KYC information which he should get. You can download the client letter in the language of your (client’s) preference by clicking on the hyperlinks below:

- Client letter English version

- Client letter Dutch version

- Client letter Italian version

- Client letter Hebrew version

- Client letter Hindi version

- Client letter French version

- Client letter Spanish version

- Client letter Russian version 

- Client letter German version 

- Client letter Chinese version

12. What is an ultimate beneficial owner (UBO)?

The ultimate beneficiary is the natural person who has ultimate control over or is owner of the company. In concrete terms, this means that the diamond trader analyzes:

1. Which natural person(s) has/have at least 25% of the shares or voting rights in the company of the client and/or the representative of the client and

2. Which natural person(s) has/have control in the company by other means (e.g. person who has the right to dismiss the majority of the management or of the board of directors, or controls the majority of the voting rights through a shareholder agreement).

If the diamond trader exhausted all possible means to identify persons according to the first rule (25% rule) or the second rule (control by other means), without any result, and there are no grounds of suspicion, or in case he doubts that the identified person(s) is/are indeed the ultimate beneficiary(ies), he appoints someone of the management of the company (e.g. CEO) as ultimate beneficiary.

In case the client, the representative of the client or company which has control over the client and/or the representative, is a listed company, the ultimate beneficiary(ies) does/do not have to be identified.

13. Why do we have to identify the ultimate beneficial owner?

This is because of the risk of certain people who are trying to hide their identity. A fraudulent business person could try to hide his identity by, for example, installing complex company structures.

The ultimate beneficial owner is the person who benefits from the company and therefore has an interest in the transactions performed by the company.  When this owner is known as a ‘fraudulent’ person, it increases the risk level of the business relationship with your client and can have an effect on the legitimacy of your client’s dealings with you. 

By identifying the ultimate beneficial owner and making an adequate risk analysis, you take measures to avoid doing business with persons in/behind the company, who are in any way involved in illegal activity.

14. Are there extra tools to identify/verify foreign clients?

A. Bureau Van Dijk database

AWDC offers access to the Bureau Van Dijk database for free to all Belgian diamond traders. This database comprises, amongst others, identification details of over 250 million companies worldwide (including names of the directors, of the ultimate beneficiaries, shareholder structures etc.), as well as various sanctions lists, lists of Politically Exposed Persons and FATF/EU high-risk countries. The database also screens according to specific risks pertaining to the diamond industry and attaches a risk level to the search result.

This tool helps diamond traders to verify information received from their clients and also provides better insight into the potential risks that come with transactions and/or business relationships. As such, it helps in the verification stage of the KYC process as well as in conducting a risk analysis.

One should note that the database is not always entirely complete, and its use should only be considered as an additional aid for identifying the customer. It most certainly should not be the only source of information. If one cannot find certain companies in the database, one can contact AWDC’s AML & Compliance Helpdesk, so that they can have the companies added to the system if they are not in there yet.

Diamond traders that wish to use the database should follow a brief practical training session at AWDC in order to learn how to use the system. Only then will they receive access to the system. To get access to the database, please contact the AML & Compliance helpdesk via 03/222.05.06 / iris.leerdam@awdc.be or 03/222.05.03 / trst@awdc.be

B. MyKYCBank

MyKYCBank is a platform intended to ease the KYC work for companies in the diamond sector. Belgian diamond traders can register on the platform, where they are to fill in all their KYC information and upload the supporting documents. As such, all KYC documents, from proof of company registration to passport copies of directors, are saved in the system. By making connections with other companies on the platform, this KYC information and the supporting documents can be shared between members on the platform.

One can register on this platform through www.mykycbank.com. For more information about this platform, please click here.

C. Israel

Via the website www.israelidiamond.co.il you can contact the representative of the Israeli diamond industry.

Email: support@israelidiamond.co.il 

Tel.: +972-54-3452913

The following information may be requested:

  1. If the diamond trader has the necessary license.
  2. If the diamond trader is member of a bourse.

The following website of the “Israeli Corporations Authority” is only available in Hebrew: https://ica.justice.gov.il/GenericCorporarionInfo/SearchCorporation?unit=8

D. United States

The following page contains a link to all useful webpages of the different states in the U.S. They can be used to search for certain information concerning U.S. companies. The published information differs from state to state. Website: http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/links/usaLink.shtml

E. India

Website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs : http://www.mca.gov.in/DCAPortalWeb/dca/MyMCALogin.do?method=setDefaultProperty&mode=14 (make your own account and search for companies’ information e.g. ultimate beneficial owner of companies)
Website of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry: https://www.icegate.gov.in/EnqMod/ (search on a company’s Import/Export code (IEC) and find information on the company’s registration)

F. United Arab Emirates

Website of the Department of Economic Development: https://eservices.dubaided.gov.ae/Pages/Anon/GstHme.aspx?lid=1 (‘Enquiries’ section)

Dubai Commercial Directory: https://dcciinfo.ae/

G. United Kingdom

Companies House website of the UK Government: https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company

H. Thailand 

Website of the Thai Gems and Jewelry Traders Association, that comprises information on most of the reputable companies as a member: http://www.en.thaigemjewelry.or.th/Membership-Thaigemjewelry

I. Australia

Website of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission: https://connectonline.asic.gov.au/RegistrySearch/faces/landing/SearchRegisters.jspx?_adf.ctrl-state=14n0gjc25q_12

J. New Zealand

Website of the New Zealand Companies Office: https://app.companiesoffice.govt.nz/companies/app/ui/pages/companies/search?advancedPanel=true 

 

15. I have had the same client for years; do I still need to identify him?

Yes, even if you have been dealing with a client for years, you need to identify him, request all identification documents and update the KYC information. 

16. Do I need to update the KYC information and if so, how often?

Yes. The Belgian law requires that, while dealing with clients, all identification documents need to be updated. There is no strict legal time frame how often one should update this information: the timing depends on the risk level of the client relationship. For low risk clients, it can take a bit longer before you ask for an update of the KYC information and documents, whereas for clients with a medium or high risk, this information can be updated more regularly.

One only needs to update the information of the client who one still does business with. In case you don’t deal with a particular client anymore, you also don’t need to update these KYC files.

 

17. How long do I need to keep the KYC documentation?

The AML legislation requires you to store all identification data gathered under the scope of the AML legislation for a period of 10 years after the end of the business relationship or after the date of the occasional transaction.

After this period has lapsed (you have not traded with this client anymore for 10 years), the GDPR (privacy regulation) requires you to delete this personal data.

18. Is it not enough that a client has already gone through an identification check by the banks or is a member of a bourse?

No. Bourses only have natural persons as a member (membership is not in name of the company but in name of a person) and do not obtain all information and documentation on their clients which one needs to gather in compliance with the AML legislation. Bourses are also not able to control or monitor the transactions which their members perform.

Also banks do not always have all KYC information and documentation which one has to obtain in compliance with the Belgian AML legislation, of diamond traders’ counterparties. Sometimes, a diamond trader’s potential client relationship may not even pass by the bank, e.g. a Belgian supplier negotiates with a client, but the client comes with a suspicious request and the Belgian supplier decides not to do business with him. This shows the importance of diamond traders’ notification duty, to report all suspicions of money laundering and financing of terrorism to the Financial Intelligence Unit  (in Dutch abbreviated as CFI) so that this can be combatted. The banks are sometimes not involved in these suspicious activities or transactions.

19. May I use the EU VAT number to identify European clients?

When doing a transaction with a counterparty in the European Union, it is advised to double-check the VAT number of this client, to ensure that it is a valid VAT number and that it is linked to that company. This check can easily be done via the following link : http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/vieshome.do?locale=nl

However, the checking the EU VAT number is not sufficient for identification/verification purposes. The law requires that you identify your client and verify his identity according to specific documents described in the law (see above).

20. Am I allowed to request a copy of my clients’ ID according to Belgian privacy laws (GDPR) and foreign law? What if foreign law conflicts with Belgian law?

Both the GDPR (privacy legislation) and AML legislation influence each other, amongst others with regard to the following points:

•          AML legislation can serve as a lawful basis to process particular personal data, as it imposes a legal obligation on diamond traders to collect and store certain personal data (e.g. identity information);

•          the personal data processed in the context of compliance with a legal obligation cannot be used for any other purpose (e.g. marketing purposes);

•          the GDPR does not prejudice the obligation under the AML to keep certain data for 10 years. However, after those 10 years, the data which is to be processed for AML purposes, have to be deleted.

For a detailed overview of the implications of the GDPR for diamond traders and the relation between AML legislation and GDPR, please consult the Q&A on GDPR for the Diamond Sector which the AML & Compliance Helpdesk has drafted.

As a Belgian diamond trader, you are thus allowed, even obliged, to ask for personal data such as a copy of an ID card of your clients in order to fulfill your anti-money laundering obligations.

If a foreign client is unwilling to provide a copy of his ID card, this should be considered as a high risk in your client acceptance policy. If your client refers to legislation that forbids him/her to provide a copy of his/her ID card (e.g. some government companies), your client should be able to provide evidence by referring to the specific legal exception. In such cases, the anti-money laundering officer should draft a report explaining the situation, the risk analysis made of the client, referring to any other information which he/she has on the client and why he/she decided to accept the client despite the lack of a copy of an ID card. This report should be added to the identification file of the client.

Also, you can recommend the client to erase the signature and to write on the copy:  “copy destined for AML purposes for company XXX dd. XX/XX/XXXX”, if this makes him/her more comfortable to share the copy with you.

21. What if I do not receive all the documents from my client or if my client refuses to provide certain documents?

provide certain documents?

The legislation requires you to do the identification and verification of your clients before the business relationship takes place or before the transaction is executed. This means that you should in principle have all documents from your client, before the deal is done. The legislation does leave room for an exception here, e.g. in the case of trade fairs: in this scenario, the identification and verification should be done as soon as possible after the sale took place.

If your client has not provided you of all required documents, send a reminder to your client with the friendly request to provide you with the necessary documents and point out that the Belgian legislation obliges you to identify your clients and verify their identity before concluding a diamond transaction.

You should make a risk analysis of the client relationship according to your AML policy, in which the refusal to provide .

If your client requests you not to analyze his identity, insist on anonymity, and/or is prepared to pay/compensate for this, this should be considered a high risk situation. In this case, you should not enter into the business relationship/not execute the occasional transaction and notify the Financial Intelligence Unit  (in Dutch abbreviated as CFI) or SPOC of AWDC.

If no response follows, and you already closed the diamond transaction, we recommend that you make a printout of the e-mails and reminders you sent to the client. Also print out all information available on the Internet (i.e. positive media, Bureau Van Dijk report, website of the client, references from other diamond traders, etc.).

Finally, draft a short report wherein you explain why you decided to deal with the client, even though you did not have all the documents (i.e. good reputation of client, recommended by someone, you have been dealing with that client for over twenty years, etc.) and add this to the identification file of your client.

Nevertheless, if your client refuses to provide a copy of his identity card and/or a copy of the company statutes and/or names of the ultimate beneficial owners, this is to be considered as highly suspicious. The law requires that you refrain from entering into a business relationship with this client. If they come back to you for business, make sure to obtain the documents which you are supposed to gather from them before you continue to do business with them.

22. Do I also need to identify suppliers?

In principle, the AML legislation only requires you to identify your clients and not your suppliers. However, if an increased risk is applicable related to the diamond trader’s suppliers, their representatives and/or their ultimate beneficiaries, the diamond trader should also identify the supplier.

In the template which AWDC has drafted (this document can be accessed on the overview page of the compliance documents on our website, and below on this page under the section 'Documents'.), risk scorecards are added of elements which are considered to reflect an increased risk related to clients and/or supplier. Diamond traders should specify in their own AML policy whether they have suppliers to which these increased risk indications are applicable and if so, take measures to mitigate these risks.

Note that if you are a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), identification of your suppliers is always required. 

23. Are controls performed on compliance with the AML legislation in the diamond sector?

Yes. The Licensing Service of the Federal Public Service Economy (in Dutch abbreviated as FOD Economie) performs controls in the diamond sector approximately two times a year. These are sometimes announced, sometimes unannounced.

You should be able to provide the identification files of your clients for a number of selected invoices, the cashbooks will be verified to see if cash payments were made and if the cash limit was respected, they can ask you who the AML officers are in your company, whether you use Bureau Van Dijk, to present your company’s AML policy etc.

The AML & Compliance Helpdesk has made a checklist for diamond traders on how to prepare for the controls:

  • Make sure the FPS Economy can contact you and find you at your registered address
  • All your KYC documents + cashbooks and invoices need to be at your registered address
  • Attend an AML Seminar once a year & present participation certificate
  • Use AWDC tools (registereddiamondcompanies.be, client letters, useful docs…)
  • Use Bureau Van Dijk database to identify & verify clients and to make a risk analysis. Keep copy of result page of client profiles (digitally or in paper). Inspectors can now also ask to demonstrate whether you use the Bureau Van Dijk database by showing your audit trail
  • Present your  AML policy (includes a Client Acceptance Policy) --> template of AWDC can be used (This document can be accessed on the overview page of the compliance documents on our website, and below on this page under the section 'Documents'.)
  • Make sure you have your clients’ KYC and ithat in particular the UBOs of your clients are identified
  • Warranties conflict diamonds on your invoices?
  • Cashbook respects limit of 3000 euro?
  • Appoint an AML officer at the highest level and possibly a second AML officer to perform executive tasks (in small companies this can be one and the same person)
  • Print AML Activity report

24. What is a third party intermediary?

This can be a company auditor, accountant, bookkeeper, notary or a bank that helps you with the identification and verification of clients and with updating this data.

Note that if you make use of a third party intermediary, you are still personally responsible to be fully compliant with the anti-money laundering legislation.

Therefore, the diamond trader has to check whether the identification details on the client provided by the third party intermediary are correct, and of course remain alert for potential risks when executing the transaction (for example, your client insists on cash payments).  If appropriate, the diamond trader should perform a supplementary or even a completely new search on his client for AML purposes (to identify/verify their identity and to make a risk analysis) at his own initiative.

25. What are the limitations for use of cash in Belgium?

In Belgium, payments in cash are limited to a maximum of 3,000 euros

Please be aware of the risks of cash payments. Dealing in cash above this amount is considered a criminal office and the fines for illegitimate use of cash are very high.

26. Can I still accept cash (abroad)?

The cash limits of the country where the transaction is executed apply. For example, when you carry out a sale in Hong Kong, the cash limits of Hong Kong apply, which can differ from the cash limit in Belgium. However, the legislation presupposes that the transaction has been executed on the Belgian territory when a Belgian party is involved, unless proven otherwise. This means that you will have to provide the evidence that the transaction was indeed executed in another jurisdiction where a different cash limit was applicable. Thus make sure to keep all evidence related to this transaction which was executed abroad (transport documents, proof of participation in a foreign trade fair etc.).  

It is however important to note that cash transactions cannot be traced as easily as bank transfers, and are therefore considered a higher risk as big amounts of cash are often linked to money laundering practices. Please make sure that you always have evidence of the transactions and discuss the transfer of the cash money to your bank account with your accountant and/or bank.

Note that you have to declare all amounts above 10,000 euros cash at customs when entering the EU.

27. Why is use of cash a higher risk?

There are countless ways to launder the proceeds of different crimes. Criminals favor cash, as it is a bearer negotiable instrument: it belongs to the person who holds it. Unlike money which is transferred electronically, it is difficult to ascertain the source of cash and impossible to know the intended beneficiary. Although not all use of cash is criminal, criminals often use cash at some stage in the money laundering process, either because their criminal activities generate cash profits, or because cash is used as an instrument to disguise the criminal origin of profits.

28. What are the sanctions for not complying with the AML legislation?

  • Administrative sanctions: 250 EUR – 1.250.000 EUR and for breaches on UBO identification: 250 EUR – 50.000 EUR
  • Who can be sanctioned? Company, the directors and the AML compliance officer on the highest level (director/manager). The AML officer on the executive level only if he would maliciously misconduct.
  • Amount depends on: seriousness of breach, the profits gained from the breach, cooperation with authorities, disadvantage of third parties, previous breaches etc.
  • Sanctions:
    • Warning or suspension or deletion licence trader
    • Administrative fine (spot check: +/- 500 EUR, AML declaration 1000 EUR and more for re-offender)
    • Police report (PV) with transaction (criminal, but you can pay immediately and PV will not be sent to Public Prosecutor)
    • Police report (PV) immediately sent to Public Prosecutor (criminal offence/money laundering

29. I still have questions.

Should you have any further questions, remarks or doubts, please contact the AWDC AML & Compliance Helpdesk:

T: 03 222 05 06 or 03 222 05 03

E: iris.leerdam@awdc.be or trst@awdc.be

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