Belgium's biggest banking fraud case opens
The biggest banking fraud case in Belgian history got underway in Brussels on Monday, with lender bank KBC in the dock after a complex 13-year long enquiry.
The case dates back to 1996 when KBC allegedly helped some customers to avoid paying tax on their savings by shifting them to its Luxembourg affiliate KB Lux.
An estimated EUR 400 million (USD 596 million) of tax revenue is involved.
A total of 11 former senior executives from the two banks appeared in the court in Brussels, including ex-KB Lux chief Damien Wigny and former KBC board head Remi Vermeiren.
They face charges of fiscal fraud and association with wrongdoers, although the more serious charge of money laundering has been dropped.
Three of the banks' customers are also under suspicion but were not present in court.
As the case opened, lawyers for Wigny called for a six-month postponement of the proceedings to allow for another linked case to be resolved.
It is believed that police in Brussels based their case on stolen documents allegedly given them by disgruntled KB Lux employees and there have been suspicions that police may have tampered with them.
One police officer is charged, in the other case, with destroying evidence which could have backed that claim.
Head judge Pierre Hendrickx said he would examine the validity of the main case on Tuesday.