OACPS concerned about closure of bank accounts held by some diplomatic missions

The Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) said on Tuesday that while it was not seeking “exceptional treatment” for diplomatic missions, it nevertheless called on Belgium and the European Union “to find practical solutions to enable diplomatic missions to continue to access adequate financial services and carry out their functions”.

In a press release, the OACPS grouping of 79 members specifies that certain diplomatic missions and members of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) accredited to Belgium and/or the EU, whether not named “have, since 2021, been faced with the closure of their bank accounts” by the Belgian bakery authorities.

“The closure of these accounts causes enormous difficulties which affect the proper functioning of the diplomatic missions concerned and disrupt the fulfillment of their mandate as stipulated by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” OACPS said.

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He said that demarches to Belgian and EU political and monetary authorities “have so far failed to resolve the issue.

“The Belgian authorities have indicated that the relationship between banks and their customers is a private matter and that they cannot intervene in this matter. However, discussions have been initiated with the Belgian Federation of the financial sector (Febelfin) and are continuing with a view to finding solutions.

The OACPS indicated that the information available to date indicates that the closure of the bank accounts results from the application of the European Union law on the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/ CFT).

He said that credit institutions and financial institutions are regulated entities and are subject to strict rules which require them to take enhanced customer due diligence measures through

“The EU, through its AMC/CFT policy, is part of this problem and OACPS calls on it to become more involved in the search for a solution,” the statement said, noting that members of OACPS have made commitments at the highest political level. national level to combat illicit finance flows, including by addressing significant AML/CFT issues.

“It should be noted that the Kingdom of Belgium, as host country, has the responsibility, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to ensure the proper functioning of the diplomatic missions accredited to the Kingdom.

“OACPS also urges the European Council and the European Parliament to address this issue as part of the AML/CFT Spring Package 2021, currently under review, in order to find a mutually satisfactory solution.”

The OACPS specifies that the steps taken with the EU and the Belgian authorities are not intended to seek exceptional treatment for the diplomatic missions concerned by the application of the law.

“Rather, they seek to find practical solutions to enable diplomatic missions to continue to access adequate financial services and perform their functions. Additionally, diplomatic missions are concerned about reputational damage resulting from their failure to conduct necessary financial transactions in a timely and transparent manner,” the statement added.

The OACPS Council of Ministers, at its just-concluded 114th session, said it had “entrusted the Committee of Ambassadors with the priority of finding a mutually acceptable solution for banks and diplomats concerned”.