When lawyers exercise certain activities on behalf of their clients, they fall within the scope of the money-laundering law (Law of 11 January 1993 for the prevention of the use of the financial system to launder money and finance terrorism, abbreviated to the ‘money-laundering law’). This legislation is intended to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and it obliges lawyers to follow an acceptance procedure. The failure to comply with this can lead to disciplinary penalties and administrative fines.
To begin with, we need to enquire as to the nature of the assignment with which you wish to entrust us, so that we can determine whether the money-laundering law applies.
If the assignment involves one of the following tasks identified by the legislator as ‘susceptible to money laundering’, we will need to investigate your identity:
- Acting in your name or on your behalf in financial transactions or real estate transactions.
- Supporting you in preparing or executing one of the following transactions:
- The purchase or sale of real estate or businesses;
- The management of money, securities or other assets;
- The opening or management of bank, savings or securities accounts;
- The organisation of contributions necessary for the foundation, operation or management of companies;
- The foundation, operation or management of companies, trusts, collateral or similar legal constructions.
The money-laundering law does not apply to advice on determining your legal position, the conducting, preparation and even the avoidance of court cases.
If the assignment with which you wish to entrust to us falls within the scope of money-laundering law, we are obliged to identify our clients and demand, verify and retain several documents in support of that identity: a copy of your identity card and, if a company is involved, an excerpt from the Central Enterprise Databank. We may also have to ask you about the origin of funds or assets.
This information and obligation to be vigilant does not only extend to our clients - whether natural or legal persons - themselves, but likewise to their agents, such as the directors of companies. We also need to check who the ultimate beneficiaries are of clients who are legal persons. This means that we need to find out about the natural persons who are assumed to exercise control over the company.