The BIF bank account in Belgium has been frozen since January 2017 due to increased security measures regarding money laundering. Despite the best efforts of Philippe Palate, the Executive Board and several months of contact with the bank, BIF were unable to reopen the account and advised that a new one has to be opened so that the funds can be transferred.
It was agreed at the October 2017 Board meeting in Vienna to open a UK bank account. Headway UK could enable one to be quickly set up in order for BIF to access the funds and with the BIF Secretariat based there, financial matters of BIF could be dealt with more efficiently. For the past year, BIF have had no means to collect membership fees or operate without the assistance of Headway UK and without an urgent solution, BIF would be forced to fold.
In future, BIF members may propose for the account to be held in another country. Switzerland was suggested, as was the possibility of splitting the money between two countries/accounts (a deposit and active account), however it is yet to be discussed and decided whether this would be the best approach for BIF going forward.
In the meantime, BIF will also be looking into having a letter drafted by a lawyer to the Belgian bank to find out what has happened and ensure this does not occur again in future.