Belgium has launched a platform through which the government and banks will jointly examine suspicious accounts and share information on money laundering risks, criminal activity and protection practices.
The country’s financial sector federation, Febelfin, launched the AML consultation platform to merge the private and public financial sectors in the fight against financial corruption.
“Just as agents on the road have a partner to track down criminals, banks also need partners in the fight against financial crime”, Karel Baert, CEO of Febelfin mentionned in a statement last week.
The alarming abundance of money laundering around the world – and the failure of banks and governments to control it – has been highlighted by FinCen Files, a global survey conducted by a number of outlets, including OCCRP, published in September of last year. The FinCen files have revealed how dirty money takes advantage of failing financial systems to move around the world.
Belgium featured prominently in the report. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) wrote that 365 of the 2,100 suspicious activity reports (SARs) brought to light in the investigation contained the word “Belgium”. Four of the country’s largest banks were mentioned in the report.
Following the FinCen files, Belgium organized a parliamentary meeting in November 2020 to discuss how to regulate and control these endemic and corrupt financial practices.
The ICIJ reported on the hearing, and wrote that the big Belgian banks have called on the authorities to work with them to eradicate money laundering.
Banks have offered a platform for banks and government to share and investigate questionable transactions together. “We urge us to engage as a true partner in the fight against money laundering”, Marc Raisière, president of the Belfius bank, mentionned in the Belgian parliament.
The AML consultation platform is a direct response to this call to action.
Similar programs implemented in neighboring countries have already proven their worth. In the UK, collaboration between banks, prosecutors and law enforcement has led to a crackdown on 5,000 suspicious accounts. More than 56 million pounds ($ 78.2 million) were seized.
The new Belgian platform aims for the same impactful results. Febelfin claims that this unprecedented partnership will lead to unprecedented success in the fight against financial corruption. Thanks to this collaboration, writes Febelfin, “we can see the big picture more quickly and intervene if necessary with the appropriate resources. In this way, we can stop criminal organizations and provide the best possible service to society and its citizens. “