Belgium gets ready for 'biggest ever' tax fraud trial

24th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 January 2006, BRUSSELS – The trial which is considered to be Belgium's biggest-ever case of tax fraud was due to open on Tuesday.

24 January 2006

BRUSSELS – The trial which is considered to be Belgium's biggest-ever case of tax fraud was due to open on Tuesday.

Thirty-seven people are accused of charges including tax evasion and money laundering through Kredietbank – which is now known as KBC – and its sister bank KB Lux.

The scandal is believed to involve EUR 400 million which was allegedly withheld from the Belgian tax office.

On Tuesday, though, the media largely expected the trial to be postponed as the prosecution was revealed to be still awaiting the translation of a number of documents from French to Dutch and vice versa.

Around 14 of the defendants had also asked for more inquiries to be carried out and complained that some of the evidence had been illegally gathered.

Some former top directors are to face trial, including Remi Vermeiren, ex-president of KBC's board, and Damien Wigny, KB Lux's ex-president of the board.

Brussels' public prosecution claims Kredietbank and KB Lux systematically helped customers to evade taxes and launder money.

One of the most famous cases was that of Rita Verstrateen, a former hairdresser who inherited EUR 500 million from the cigarette magnate Roget Gosset. Her alleged tax avoidance led to the arrest of Wigny.

As many as 8,000 Belgian accounts, many hidden in Luxembourg, are understood to have been examined over the affair. Many of those customers have concluded a deal with the tax authorities, while others have taken the matter to court, with some winning their cases.

Since the start of inquiries, KBC and KB Lux have always denied breaking the law.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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