Beware of the revived notification duty for incorrect UBO information

Effective 28 June 2021, the Belgian legislator has reinstated the duty of obliged entities to notify the authorities of discrepancies or incorrect information with respect to their clients in the Belgian UBO register.

Obliged entities, such as financial institutions, accountants, notaries, real estate brokers and lawyers, are required to consult the Belgian UBO register as part of their know-your-client procedures. Under the aforementioned notification duty, any differences between the UBO information in the register and the UBO information these obliged entities have on file need to be notified to the authorities. In the case of lawyers, a notification should be made to the Bâtonnier/Stafhouder who will pass-on the notification to the authorities subject to the rules on professional secrecy.

Limited exceptions to the notification duty apply when the obliged entity is bound by professional secrecy and has obtained the UBO information when establishing the legal position of the client or when representing or defending the client in a litigation. However, these exceptions are interpreted restrictively.

Upon receipt of a notification, the authorities can contact the company in question with a request to correct, complete or confirm the UBO information in the register within a period of one month. Depending on the circumstances and the nature of the discrepancy sanctions may be imposed.

In light of the aforementioned, we recommend companies to (put in place procedures to) ascertain that the UBO information in the register is correct, complete and fully consistent with the UBO information that is (or has been) communicated to obliged entities. We also recommend keeping available a brief note explaining the methodology followed for completing the UBO register, with a view to being able to answer the questions that might be raised by obliged entities.

We would be happy to guide you through the – often complex – UBO identification and registration procedure or assist in the drafting of this note. We can also provide a legal opinion which can be shared with other obliged entities for purposes of their know-your-client procedures.