Belgium is staying ahead of the game with a robust anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) system, according to a recent study by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). While the global organization praises Belgium’s AML/CFT efforts, the report notes that there’s still some room for improvement. 

The study titled, “Mutual Evaluation Report of Belgium,” states that the country has established “the core elements of a sound anti-money laundering regime”. Under the system, Belgium applies its understanding of AML/CFT risks to develop initiatives that address AML/CFT activities.

In money laundering cases, Belgium’s financial intelligence unit organizes and quantifies critical data used for enforcement actions, but due to a lack of resources in areas such as the criminal unit, some high-profile criminal cases are “not always successfully investigated and prosecuted,” the report says. 

Even though Belgium’s financial sector has been doing a good job at taking the right actions to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing activities, some providers lack a comprehensive understanding of AML/CFT compliance but are still making great strides in this area, the report says. Moreover, while the non-financial sector has renewed its commitment to fighting AML/CFT, professions such as lawyers and casinos have not yet taken action. 

Recently, the European Union announced that it has adopted new rules that will strengthen its fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The draft rules, once mandated into EU law, will enhance the member states’ current rules against money laundering and ensure that all compliance requirements are met. The proposed regulations reflect the need for the EU to take into account the development of technology and other means that are disposal of criminals. Some highlights are:

Extension on the scope of current EU anti-money laundering rules by introducing requirements for a greater number of traders and providers of gambling services at a lower threshold  (from EUR €15 000 to EUR €10 000).

Application of a risk-based approach, using evidence-based decision making, to address risks. The provision of guidance by the European supervisory authorities.

Stronger rules on customer due diligence. Obliged entities such as banks are required to take enhanced measures where the risks are greater, and can take simplified measures where risks are smaller.