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RRBs - KYC Norms/AML Standards / Combating Financing of Terrorism/Obligation of banks under PMLA, 2002


June 23, 2010

The Chairman
All Regional Rural Banks (RRBs)

Dear Sir,

Know Your Customer (KYC) norms/Anti-Money Laundering (AML) standards / Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT)/Obligation of banks under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

Please refer to our circular RPCD.RRB.BC.NO. 81/03.05.33 (E)/2004-05 dated February 18, 2005 on Know Your Customer (KYC) Guidelines – Anti Money Laundering Standards.

Client accounts opened by professional intermediaries

2. Annex-1 of the circular dated February 18, 2005 referred to above, provides "When the bank has knowledge or reason to believe that the client account opened by a professional intermediary is on behalf of a single client, that client must be identified. Banks may hold 'pooled' accounts managed by professional intermediaries on behalf of entities like mutual funds, pension funds or other types of funds. Banks also maintain 'pooled' accounts managed by lawyers/chartered accountants or stockbrokers for funds held 'on deposit' or 'in escrow' for a range of clients. Where funds held by the intermediaries are not co-mingled at the bank and there are 'sub-accounts', each of them attributable to a beneficial owner, all the beneficial owners must be identified. Where such funds are co-mingled at the bank, the bank should still look through to the beneficial owners." Further, in terms of paragraph 3 of the guidelines of the circular referred to above, if a bank decides to accept an account in terms of the Customer Acceptance Policy, the bank should take reasonable measures to identify the beneficial owner(s) and verify his/her/their identity in a manner so that it is satisfied that it knows who the beneficial owner(s) is/are.  Therefore, under the extant AML/CFT framework it is not possible for professional intermediaries like Lawyers and Chartered Accountants, etc. who are bound by any client confidentiality that prohibits disclosure of the client details, to hold an account on behalf of their clients.

3. It is, therefore, reiterated that RRBs should not allow opening and/or holding of an account on behalf of a client/s by professional intermediaries, like Lawyers and Chartered Accountants, etc., who are unable to disclose true identity of the owner of the account/funds due to any professional obligation of customer confidentiality.  Further, any professional intermediary who is under any obligation that inhibits bank's ability to know and verify the true identity of the client on whose behalf the account is held or beneficial ownership of the account or understand true nature and purpose of transaction/s, should not be allowed to open an account on behalf of a client.

4. These guidelines are issued under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. Any contravention thereof or non-compliance shall attract penalties under Banking Regulation Act.

5. Please acknowledge the receipt of this circular to our Regional Office concerned.

Yours faithfully,

Chief  General Manager