The members of the new Sanctions Committee of the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) have been appointed. The appointments follow on the changes in the administrative sanctions procedure and in the rules on the composition of the Sanctions Committee.
The Sanctions Committee is an autonomous body within the FSMA, and as such is entrusted with imposing administrative fines in the event of a failure to comply with the regulations that the FSMA supervises. Decisions of the Sanctions Committee are published on the FSMA's website, including if no sanction has been imposed or if an appeal has been lodged.
The Law of 2 July 2010, which reformed the financial supervisory structure in Belgium, altered both the sanctions procedure and the composition of the Sanctions Committee, effective 15 July 2011. The Sanctions Committee now consists of ten members.
Of these ten, six are judges: two (honorary) justices nominated by the senior president of the Council of State; two (honorary) justices of the Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation/ Hof van Cassatie), nominated by the senior president of the Supreme Court; and two judges who do not serve on either the Supreme Court or the Brussels Court of Appeal.
The appointment of the members of the Sanctions Committee is made by means of a Royal Decree. The Royal Decree of 26 September 2011 on the appointments is published in the 3 October 2011 edition of the Belgian Official Gazette (Moniteur belge / Belgisch Staatsblad).
The following persons have been appointed members of the FSMA Sanctions Committee:
- Mr Marnix Van Damme, chamber president, Council of State, professor at the VUB, nominated by the senior president of the Council of State,
- Mr Philippe Quertainmont, chamber president, Council of State, professor at the ULB, nominated by the senior president of the Council of State,
- Mr Luc Huybrechts, emeritus section president, Supreme Court, emeritus lecturer at the University of Antwerp, nominated by the senior president of the Supreme Court,
- Mr Claude Parmentier, emeritus section president, Supreme Court, nominated by the senior president of the Supreme Court,
- Mr Michel Rozie, senior president of the Antwerp Court of Appeal, lecturer at the VUB,
- Ms Hamida Reghif, judge at the court of first instance, research assistant at the ULB,
- Mr Guy Keutgen, emeritus professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain, emeritus president of the Belgian Centre for Mediation and Arbitration (Cepina/Cepani),
- Mr Pierre Nicaise, lecturer at the Université Catholique de Louvain and emeritus president of the Royal Federation of Belgian Notaries,
- Mr Reinhard Steennot, professor at the University of Ghent,
- Mr Dirk Van Gerven, President of the Dutch-speaking bar association (Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten) of Brussels.
The new sanctions procedure introduces a number of innovations aimed at speeding up the handling of sanctions dossiers and increasing the effectiveness and transparency of the enforcement process, in view of enhancing its deterrent effect.
Hence, the Secretary-General, in his capacity as investigations officer, henceforth takes the decision to launch an investigation. On the basis of a report which he draws up at the end of the investigation, the FSMA's Management Committee will decide on the action to taken. The Management Committee has the following options:
- close the case;
- accept an agreed settlement;
- decide to launch an administrative sanctions procedure. In the latter case, the charges and the investigation report drawn up by the investigations officer will be handed over to the Sanctions Committee. If the investigation carried out by the investigations officer should indicate that a criminal offence may have been committed, the Public Prosecutions Office will be informed.
The Sanctions Committee will decide, after a hearing of the arguments both for prosecution and the defence, whether or not to impose an administrative fine, and will publish its decision. Its decision may be appealed to the Brussels Court of Appeal.