On October 22, the federal parliament has approved a new law, guaranteeing basic banking services for all Belgian companies.
The law will come into effect 6 months after publication in the Belgian Official Gazette.
In short, what does this law entail and why is it important to you?
- Basic banking services are guaranteed to all Belgian companies, if such a company has been denied basic banking services by a Belgian financial institution at least 3 times or when its bank accounts have been closed.
- Unless contrary to AML legislation, Belgian financial institutions are obligated to sufficiently motivate their decision to refuse basic banking services to a Belgian enterprise or to close its bank account(s), within 10 days after the request to open a bank account.
- When a Belgian enterprise is denied basic banking services at least three times by Belgian financial institutions, that company can submit a request to the Basic Banking Services Chamber or “Basisbankdienst-kamer”(to be established within the FPS Economy by Royal Decree) which will then designate a Belgian financial institution that is obliged to provide basic banking services to the requesting company.
- The law specifies that it applies for both dollar and euro accounts.
However, before the law can come into full effect there are still a few practicalities that need to be worked out:
- To be operational the Basic Banking Services Chamber (Basisbankdienst-kamer) needs to be established within the FPS Economy by Royal Decree.
- For risk-sensitive sectors (the diamond sector included), specific risk-mitigating measures or Codes of Conduct need to be established per Royal Decree.
- Additional conditions and limitations could be issued by Royal Decree to mitigate risks associated with the use of cash and the use of US Dollar.