In 2021, the register of bank accounts and insurance contracts was consulted 153,000 times, i.e. three times more than in 2020. And the trend continued in the first half of 2022 (+64% over one year) .
These sensitive data are certainly only accessible to a few people, in the exercise of their professional activity, within a strict legal framework and with respect for the privacy of the persons concerned.
But how is this database made up? What justifies such curiosity? Who has access to your financial privacy? Until what point? What are we looking for? What purpose?
What is the CCP?
Since 2014the BNB holds a register of account numbers in bank and financial contracts of every Belgianas well as financial transactions involving cash, in a database. Objective: to fight against tax evasion, bleaching silver, terrorist financing and other major forms of crime.
Originally, only the taxman could consult the PCC (central point of contact for accounts and financial contracts). But, for two yearsthe register is also accessible at FPS Justiceto notaries and to County court bailiff. “The extent of the data that can be consulted varies according to the quality of the person consulting the PCC”, specifies Me Grégory Homans, managing partner of the law firm Dekeyser & Associés.
Accounts abroad: transparency since 2015
Since 2015, as part of the automatic exchange of financial information between States, the register also contains information on the accounts that Belgian residents hold abroad. The taxpayers concerned are required to provide the number themselves in their tax return. The declaration does not have to be repeated every year. On the other hand, it must be confirmed that the account has actually been declared to the PCC.
And it doesn’t stop there. At the start of 2022, the spectrum has widened considerably. Your financial privacy is exposed since the balance of your accounts is also available to the CCP.
Financial institutions operating in Belgium must in fact provide the balances as of 30/06 and 31/12 of bank and payment accounts, the aggregated amounts as of 30/06 and 31/12 of investment and related contracts, as well as the aggregated amounts at 31/12 of the life insurance policies. the data retention period communicated to the CCP is 10 years.
“Concerning assets abroad, it is necessary to point out several differences between life insurance and bank accounts in terms of reporting. For example, it is up to the taxpayer to inform his bank account opened with a foreign bank in the PCC, while for foreign life insurance, this obligation is directly incumbent on foreign companies”, specifies Me Homans. “To date, there is no reporting obligation for cryptocurrencies (except in certain specific situations)”, he adds.
So who can consult the CCP?
Originally solely intended to serve as a source of information for the services of tax control and collection on income, the database can now also be consulted for control and collection of other taxes (VAT, customs and excise duties, registration fees, inheritance taxes, etc.).
The tax administration has no not free access to CCP data. It can only act in the presence of indications of fraud., resulting for example from datamining or in the context of tax collection. There is therefore no question of going fishing for information at random. “The consultation is only open to certain tax officials within the framework of a strict procedure established by the FPS Finances, which manages the authorization and authentication of access”, specifies the BNB.
“The tax authorities mainly use the register for the purpose of recovering tax arrears and analyzing the solvency of debtors.”
From a practical point of view, the tax administration can only solicit a bank if the taxpayer refuses to communicate information on his bank accounts, if he conceals it or does not give a satisfactory answer. In this case, since the tax authorities do not know with which establishment(s) the taxpayer holds one or more accountsaccess to the database him save tedious research and him saves a lot of time.
Francis Adyns, spokesman for the FPS Finances, indicates that in realitythe tax authorities mainly use the register for the purpose of recovering tax arrears. “Consulting the register is an essential part of our recovery policy and helps us to analyze solvency of our debtors.”
LNotaries can only consult the PCC for their research as part of a declaration of inheritance. So for dead people. Since the heirs are not necessarily aware of the existence of all the bank accounts and contracts held by the deceased, the notaries must consult the register to ensure the completeness of inheritance declarations that they introduce. “Notaries cannot see as account numbers. They don’t have no access to balance of the accounts”, specifies Jan Sap, director general of the Federation of notaries, Fednot.
“Guaranteeing direct access by bailiffs to the CCP in the context of the execution of a court decision would make it possible to avoid garnishment costs payable by the debtor party if there is nothing on the account. ”
Judicial officers do not have for their part access to CCP that via a request filed with the attachment judge. “We can only consult the CCP as part of a precautionary measure, while we already hold a Belgian writ of execution, which generally allows seizures of movable property, wages and people’s buildings. When it comes to consulting their bank accounts, we are forced, not only to go through the judge, but also to justify on the part of the applicant (creditor) the urgency and severity of the situation and other criteria. In the end, therefore, we often do not obtain the authorization: only about fifty requests for consultation of the PCC by a bailiff are actually accepted each year”, explains Quentin Daubray, president and spokesperson of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers.
The bailiffs, who are the collectors of private (and public) debts, also have no access only to account numbers, not on saleat the difference of the recipient of direct contributions, the state collector. A difference in treatment denounced by Quentin Daubray.
The bailiffs demand direct access to the CCP (accounts and balances) in the execution of a court decision. “The question is currently under discussion,” explains Quentin Daubry. “This would avoid exposing unnecessary garnishment costs (a cumbersome and rigorous procedure) to the debtor party who will get nothing if there are only 3 euros on the account and we did not know it. not,” he argues. While being aware that since at this stage, the data is only updated every six months, there is never a total guarantee as to the balance of the accounts…
Among the other authorized persons to receive the information are others FPS Finance officialscivil servants of the FPS Justicesome employees of theFlemish tax administration and the Financial Information Processing Unit (CTIF).
You have the right to inspect the personal data registered in your name at the PCC with the NBB.
You have access to the data recorded in your name…
When opening a bank account or concluding a contract, the financial institution informs the customer that his data is communicated to the PCC.
You have a right of inspection, at the BNBon the personal data registered in your name to the CCP. You can submit a written, dated and signed request, with a copy of both sides of your identity card, as well as your surname, first name, date of birth and full address, to the NBB. The result of the consultation will be sent free of charge. “The taxpayer has the right to rectify or delete the data times about him to the CCP if these are erroneous”, underlines Grégory Homans.
… and the list of those who consulted them
You can also see the list of institutions empowered to receive information and who have consulted the data stored in your name in the last 6 months. To do this, you must send a written, dated and signed request to the PCC (following the same procedure as for consulting the data recorded in your name).
End of bank secrecy?
Some conclude that these developments signal the end of banking secrecy in Belgium. Me Homans recalls that in fact, “there is no longer any banking secrecy in our country since a judgment of the Court of Cassation of October 25, 1978, which established a simple duty of discretion not opposable to the tax administration. In other words , if the latter acts in the rules to question a financial institution, this one cannot oppose it”.