Belgian law and the third European directive oblige auditors in Belgium to cooperate with the authorities against money laundering and terrorist financing.
While the auditor does not have a responsibility to actively search for money laundering activities, there is an obligation for the auditor to cooperate with the Belgian financial intelligence unit (CFI/CTIF). This obligation also exists for other professions, such as bankers, lawyers, notaries.
When establishing a business relationship, the auditor must evaluate the risk profile of his new client and, in case of doubt, must establish the identity of the real client, take all necessary measures to discover who the beneficial owner of a prospective client is and obtain an understanding of the ownership and control structure of the client. Where the auditor is unable to respect his obligation to identify the client, the auditor may not establish a business relationship. The auditor must identify clients and their agents or beneficial owners on the basis of documents, data or information from a reliable and independent source (which will usually be the identity card or passport of those concerned).
During the period of the appointment, there is an ongoing obligation to monitor the client’s relationship and to document any change in the client risk profile. The auditor will need to perform specific supplementary substantive tests for those clients with a profile showing a risk higher then normal – examples of specific sectors and statements have been published (restaurant sector, car wash, new technology…). The IRE/IBR requires the audit firms to insert a supplementary declaration in the representation letter to be signed by the company’s management, where management declares that it has no knowledge of any facts that could lead to money laundering or terrorist financing.