AMLD for accountants

Sinds de introductie van de Wet ter voorkoming witwassen en financiering terrorisme (Wwft) zijn accountants en belastingadviseurs direct betrokken bij de bestrijding van witwaspraktijken en de financiering van terrorisme.

Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Prevention) Act

The AMLD has been drawn up to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. The AMLD has been in force in the Netherlands since August 1, 2008, and was last amended on January 10, 2020 to the fifth European anti-money laundering directive (AMLD5). Given the work area of ​​accountants, they are closely involved in the AMLD, although it is not always clear what consequences this entails

What does the AMLD mean for accountants?

De belangrijkste elementen van de Wwft zijn het cliëntenonderzoek, de meldingsplicht en de bewaarplicht. Kortom betekent dit dat een accountant dient vast te stellen wie zijn client is, of de geleverde identificatie authentiek is, en of er bij transacties risico is op witwaspraktijken of financiering van terrorisme.

This research is generally referred to as the customer due diligence, and this is a mandatory activity for the purposes of the general guideline AMLD.

Client research and Customer Due Diligence (CDD)

The general guideline of the AMLD recognizes three types of customer due diligence: standard, simplified and enhanced. The simplified research is applicable to a select group of clients such as government agencies, no further research is required.

In all other cases, a standard investigation is first assumed, an enhanced investigation is only required in special cases or if the standard investigation indicates an increased risk.

The first step in standard customer due diligence is to establish and verify the identity of the client and counterparty in a transaction. This means that the auditor must verify whether the documents provided are authentic, whether they are consistent with the parties involved, and whether no external interested parties are involved in the transaction.

The identification data and documents provided must be recorded in a customer file in accordance with the relevant retention obligation of the Wwft. After the implementation of the 4th directive of the European Union, the accountant is also obliged to find out who the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) is behind every client.

In addition to the investigation into the identity of clients, the Wwft also requires accountants to conduct an investigation into the risk profile. The risk profile is an indication of the risk of money laundering or terrorist financing that clients entail. The FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) of the national government has drawn up specific guidelines for determining client risk profiles for accountants.

According to this guideline, there is an increased risk for, for example, clients from high-risk countries, or clients who, due to their field, carry a higher risk of money laundering practices. In addition to the nature of the clients, the transaction itself can also involve increased risk, for example in transactions between “shell companies” or transactions with shares whose value cannot be properly determined.

Duty to report

If the accountant's customer due diligence reveals an increased or unacceptable risk of money laundering, he is obliged to report this to the FIU. The duty to report applies to transactions or situations that can be labeled as unusual. After a report

the FIU then decides whether the unusual situation is actually suspicious and acts independently. When submitting a report, an accountant is also obliged to adhere to a stricter retention obligation.

Data retention obligation

The retention obligation obliges an accounting practice to keep all data regarding customer due diligence for at least five years, and to make it accessible for any further investigation. Once a report has been made to the FIU, this obligation also applies, with a stricter requirement for the storage of data. In this case, all data required to reconstruct the transaction, a copy of the notification and a confirmation of receipt from the FIU must also be kept.

Enhanced customer due diligence

Naar aanleiding van het cliëntenonderzoek kan er reden zijn tot het voortzetten van een verscherpt onderzoek. Dit dient gedaan te worden als het initiële onderzoek wijst op hoger dan laag risico, maar ook in bijzondere gevallen. Voorbeelden hiervan zijn als betrokken partijen vallen onder de lijst met Politiek Prominente Personen (PEPs) of de interesse van financiële wachthouders hebben.

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