customers of many accounting service providers have probably noticed in recent
years that they are being sent ‘Know Your Customer’ forms to fill in, asked to
present an identity document and requested more information about the
customer’s transactions. Customers are usually used to these queries when they
come from a credit institution, but all this may come as a bit of a surprise
from an accounting service. So why is an accounting service provider acting
like a credit institution?
institutions, accounting service providers are, in fact, obliged entities for
the purposes of the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act
(MLTFPA). The MLTFPA does not distinguish between accounting service providers
by their size, which means that even very small accounting service providers
are obliged entities. In addition to accounting service providers, obliged
entities also include, for example, real estate agents, virtual currency
service providers and pawn shops. State supervision over accounting service
providers is carried out by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
obliged entity means that the person’s economic and professional activities are
subject to additional requirements aimed at preventing money laundering and
terrorist financing. In very simplistic terms, this means the application of
due diligence measures, which include identifying the customer, understanding
the transaction/business, and monitoring the business relationship. The
application of these due diligence measures is the reason why the accounting
service provider asks for an identity document, sends the ‘Know Your Customer’
form, requests additional information about transactions, etc. These due
diligence measures must also be applied continuously throughout the business
relationship, not just on an on-off basis.
accounting service provider as an obliged entity cannot choose to not apply due
diligence measures because the law allows the obliged entity to be fined should
this be the case. For example, the penalty for a legal person for failure to
perform the duty to identify a person is a fine of up to 400,000 euros, and
fines in the same amount are also prescribed for a number of other breaches.
This means that the accounting service provider also cannot perform the
requirements of law selectively, for example by checking the background of only
certain types of customers. An agreement with the customer that the accounting
service provider will not apply due diligence measures and will not ask the
customer anything is also not permitted.
The aim of the queries of accounting service providers is therefore not to burden the customer but to act in accordance with the law. Cooperation is certainly smoother if the customer provides the information requested and thus allows the accounting service provider to focus on providing accounting services.
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