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New Banking Law Set to Support Antwerp Trade

Belgian parliament approves rules entitling companies to open accounts.
Oct 27, 2020 7:36 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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RAPAPORT...
Belgium’s federal parliament has approved a new law entitling diamond companies to open bank accounts even after suffering repeated rejections.

The Basic Banking Law guarantees fundamental banking services to all Belgian companies, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) explained in a note to the industry last week. Following parliamentary approval last Thursday, the law will come into force within six months of its publication in the Belgian Official Gazette, which is expected to happen soon, the AWDC added.

Companies that have been refused basic banking services by a Belgian financial institution three times will be able to apply to a new Basic Banking Services Chamber. This organization will then designate a Belgian financial institution that must provide the company with these services. The country still needs to work out specific measures for the diamond industry and other sectors that banks consider high-risk.

It’s “very common” for Antwerp diamond companies to be refused a bank account three times, an AWDC spokesperson told Rapaport News Monday. The body has been campaigning for more compassionate banking rules for years amid repeated reports of companies being denied banking services because they are diamond traders or are connected to the industry.

“In Belgium, you cannot have or operate a company without a bank account,” the spokesperson said. “For companies, if they don’t have a bank account, [they’re] paralyzed.”

Image: The Antwerp Diamond Bourse trading floor. (Antwerp World Diamond Centre)
Tags: Antwerp Trade, Antwerp World Diamond Centre, AWDC, Basic Banking Law, Belgium, Joshua Freedman
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