Corruption and money-laundering

Corruption and money laundering are scourges hampering the effective functioning of the economy and seriously denting the country's credibility. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, money laundering was estimated at €1,600 billion around the world in 2009, i.e. 2.7 % of global GDP.

In Belgium, corruption is governed by the Penal Code modified by the Law of 10 February 1999 (itself adapted by the Law of 11 May 2007). Articles 246 and subsequent of the Penal Code concern public corruption and Articles 504bis and subsequent of the same Code concern private corruption.

At international level, Belgium is a signatory of the following Conventions:

  • The Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (Council of Europe, 27 January 1999).
  • The Civil Law Convention on Corruption (Council of Europe, 4 November 1999).
  • The Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (OECD, 17 December 1997).
  • The Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union (Council of the European Union, 26 May 1997).
  • The Convention against Corruption (United Nations, 31 October 2003).

Money laundering is the hiding of capital or funds whose origins are known to be illegal (drugs, extortion, scams, arms sales, fraud, etc.).

In Belgium, the CTIF (Cellule de Traitement des Informations Financières - Financial Intelligence Processing Unit) is at the centre of the fight against the laundering of money of criminal origin and the financing of terrorism.

The fight against money laundering is governed by the Law of 11 January 1993 on preventing the use of the financial system for laundering money and financing terrorism, amended by the Law of 18 January 2010 (which reflected the transposition into Belgian law of the 3rd anti-money laundering directive) and then by the Law of 26 November 2011 and by the programme act of 29 March 2012.

There are two aspects to the fight against money laundering:

  • Preventive aspect: the system put in place by the law of 11 January 1993 created a duty of collaboration and transmission of information on the part of the bodies and persons targeted by this law, with the purposes of detecting suspicious financial operations and informing the CTIF to this effect (duty to report).
  • Enforcement aspect: Article 505 of the Penal Code. This article targets three types of behaviour liable to constitute the crime of money laundering:
    • * concealment: having bought, received in exchange or free of charge, possessed, kept or managed material benefits derived from an offence.
    • * the conversion or transfer of these material benefits with the aim of concealing or disguising their illegal origin.

* the concealment or disguising of the nature, origin, location, availability, movement or ownership of the material benefits. This is aimed primarily at the use of front-men, figureheads or shell companies and recourse to companies or financial institutions located in offshore territories or tax havens.

 Anti-corruption guide for Belgian enterprises overseas (PDF, 2.16 MB)