This is the section of the FSMA website dealing with whistleblowers’ reports. A whistleblower is a person employed in the financial sector who observes an infringement(s) against the financial legislation which the FSMA is responsible for enforcing, and reports the infringement(s) in question to the FSMA.
The FSMA guarantees that the whistleblower’s identity will be kept secret. Reports can also be made anonymously. The law protects persons who in good faith report an infringement to the FSMA.
Whistleblowers’ reports should enable the FSMA to investigate the facts in question. Therefore, the facts need to be described with sufficient precision and detail. Where possible, the facts should also be supported with documentary evidence.
Whistleblowers’ reports can be made using various channels: via the Whistleblowers’ Point of contact on this website, by phone, in writing or at a face-to-face meeting.
Below, we have provided more detailed explanations and instructions regarding whistleblowers’ reports.
What is the Whistleblowers' Point of contact?
- The Whistleblowers' Point of contact allows for potential or actual infringements of the financial legislation to be reported to the FSMA. Whistleblowers ("reporting persons") can help detect abuses, address them and impose appropriate sanctions.
- The Whistleblowers' Point of contact is not intended for clients to submit their complaints against a financial institution or to report a personal conflict with their employer or co-contractor. There are other communication channels for consumer questions and complaints, both within and beyond the FSMA. A list of these institutions and their specific roles can be found on the FSMA website.
Who can submit a report?
- Anyone (permanent or temporary, internal or external, employee or self-employed worker, public sector staff, intern, etc.) who observes actual or potential infringements of the financial legislation which the FSMA supervises can submit a report. The legislation with which the FSMA supervises compliance can be consulted on its website. The website also provides an introductory brochure with a general description of the mission and powers of the FSMA.
Can you report anonymously?
- The reports of infringements may, if you wish, be made entirely anonymously. In that case, the FSMA does not know the identity of the reporting person and cannot contact the person for further information or clarifications.
- The FSMA also guarantees that the identity of a reporting person who identifies him/herself is kept secret. This applies both to a person who immediately reveals his or her identity and to a person who decides at a later stage to make his or her identity known. Unless the person agrees, the FSMA will refuse any request to consult, receive explanations or a copy of an administrative document if the disclosure of the document in question jeopardizes the protection of the reporting person's identity.
What protection do you enjoy as a whistleblower?
- The law provides protection for persons who in good faith report to the FSMA an infringement of the financial legislation with which the FSMA supervises compliance.
- Such persons may report information that would normally be confidential. The report may not give rise to any civil law, criminal law or ethical charges or to professional sanctions. The persons concerned are not considered to be infringing any contractually or legally binding restriction on the disclosure or reporting of information, and cannot be involved in liability of any kind relating to the reporting of the information (unless the person is a lawyer).
- Reporting persons are protected against retaliation, discrimination and other types of unfair treatment or unfavourable measure (such as dismissal, salary cut, change in position or job content) by their employer in relation to or as a result of reporting an infringement . The reporting person can ask the FSMA to confirm the status of whistleblower, including the date when the report was made, in the event of a labour dispute.
 Article 69bis of the Law of 2 August 2002 on the supervision of the financial sector and on financial services, add hyperlink. This Article also provides for protection of the person whom a report accuses of an infringement.
 Individual cases are assessed in the course of judicial proceedings. The burden of proof that the treatment or measure is unrelated to and not a consequence of the report rests on the employer, under certain conditions, for a period of 12 months from the time of the report and as long as the dispute is pending. The employee can request again, under the same conditions, to be rehired in the company (with payment of the lost earnings) or can claim compensation in the amount of a minimum of 6 months' gross salary. Public sector employees and persons who are employed under a status other than (private sector) employees, such as self-employed staff, enjoy the same protection.
What procedures apply to reports?
- The procedures that apply to reports of infringements are set out in a regulation adopted by the FSMA.
- Reports of infringements are handled within the FSMA by dedicated staff members who are trained in handling them. The dedicated staff members are the ones who maintain contact with the reporting person where the latter has identified him/herself.
- The reports received will be stored in a confidential and secure system. Access to the system is subject to restrictions ensuring that the data stored therein is available only to the persons within the FSMA for whom access to that data is necessary to fulfil their professional duties.
- The FSMA promptly acknowledges receipt of written reports of infringements, submitted via the Whistleblowers' Point of contact or in paper format, to the postal or electronic address indicated by the reporting person, unless the reporting person explicitly requested otherwise or the competent authority reasonably believes that acknowledging receipt of a written report would jeopardize the protection of the reporting person's identity. The acknowledgement of receipt only confirms that the person concerned has reported information via the Whistleblowers' Point of contact or in paper format, and the date when the said information was reported. The acknowledgement does not, however, confirm that the report concerned an infringement for which legal protection is due.
- Persons who report information via the telephone line or at a physical meeting are offered the possibility to check, rectify and agree with the transcript of the report by signing it, and receive a copy.
- If the reporting person has provided his or her contact details, the FSMA will, within 6 weeks, send the person a confirmation of whether or not his/her report concerns an infringement of the financial legislation with which the FSMA supervises compliance. Such confirmation will not be sent if the reporting person explicitly requested otherwise or the competent authority reasonably believes that doing so would jeopardize the protection of that person's identity.
- If it turns out that the report is not of an infringement of the financial legislation with which the FSMA supervises compliance, the person will, where appropriate, be referred to the channel within the FSMA or to the authority outside the FSMA that can help him or her further. Exceptionally, this period of 6 weeks may be extended.
What confidentiality regime applies?
- The information relating to reports on infringements, including the identity of the person accused of an infringement, falls under the rules governing professional secrecy. These rules mean that FSMA staff may not disclose the confidential information which they have received in the course of carrying out their tasks to any other persons or authorities, except in special cases that are specifically laid down by law.
- The FSMA guarantees the confidentiality of the reporting person, even where it transmits an infringement to another person or authority (such as the Public Prosecutor's Office or another financial supervisory authority) in one of the exceptional cases laid down by law. In the latter case, the FSMA will do everything it reasonably can to ensure that the transmission of the data to another person or authority does not reveal, directly or indirectly, the identity of the reporting person. A derogation from this obligation is possible only if the reporting person agrees that the FSMA may reveal his or her identity to another person or authority or if the FSMA is legally required to do so.
- The data relating to the report of an infringement, including the identity of the person whom the report accuses of the infringement, is disclosed within the FSMA only to persons for whom access to that data is necessary to perform their professional duties. An even stricter confidentiality regime is laid down as regards the identity of the reporting person: in principle, only the dedicated staff members are given this information, and they do everything they reasonably can to ensure that if they transmit the report of an infringement to persons inside the FSMA, the transmission does not reveal, directly or indirectly, the identity of the reporting person. Only with the reporting person's consent can his or her identity be disclosed to the other persons within the FSMA for whom that is necessary to perform their professional duties. In such a case - that is, only where the reporting person consents - the identity of the reporting person will also be included in the dossier drawn up on the basis of the report of the infringement.
What information can you report via the Whistleblowers' Point of contact?
- The FSMA will handle reports of infringements only of the financial legislation with which it supervises compliance. The Whistleblowers' Point of contact therefore does not have to report any infringements of legislation that does not fall within the FSMA's areas of competence.
- The reports must enable the FSMA to investigate the facts reported. The information must be transparent, comprehensible and reliable. The reporting person must describe the relevant facts carefully and in sufficient detail, and where possible document them via evidence submitted together with the report on the infringement. It is important, among other things, to mention the type of infringement, the name and position of the reported person, the location, the period to which the report refers and any other element that the reporting person deems relevant.
- The FSMA's dedicated staff members may, via the contact information provided by the reporting person, ask him or her to clarify the information and documents provided or to provide additional information, unless the (non-anonymous) reporting person has explicitly stated that he or she does not wish to be contacted.
What kind of feedback can you expect from the FSMA?
- Because of the legal restrictions concerning professional secrecy, the FSMA does not provide individual feedback on the investigations it carries out in response to a report. If infringements have effectively been confirmed, appropriate measures may be taken and sanctions imposed. In some cases, the measures or sanctions will be made public on the FSMA's website.
How can you submit a report?
- Electronic application: Whistleblowers' Point of contact : French or Dutch.
- Telephone line: 02/220 56 66, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday between 9:00-12:00, answering service outside of those hours. The telephone calls are not recorded.
- Physical meeting: by appointment, that can be made via the electronic application or via the telephone line 02/220 56 66. The telephone calls are not recorded.
- Written report in paper format: to be sent to the FSMA, Enforcement Department, attn. Michaël André, Investigations Officer, Confidential - LAK2392, Congresstraat/rue du Congrès 12, 1000 Brussels.
Treatment of personal data