Belgian prince investigated in alleged global tax evasion network probe

Belgian prince investigated in alleged global tax evasion network probe
Belgian Prince Henri De Croÿ. Credit: Belga

An investigation has been opened targetting Belgian Prince Henri De Croÿ's alleged tax evasion network, which he is accused of using to help funnel millions in funds into tax havens.

Finance Minister Alexandre de Croo confirmed that the Special Tax Inspectorate (ISI) was building up files on taxpayers whose names appeared on leaked data on the prince's network, business daily L'Echo reports.

A member of the Belgian nobility, the prince is a descendant of the House of Croÿ, one of the oldest aristocratic families in Europe, with the de Croÿ-Solre branch being the last surviving line of the noble house.

De Croÿ, whose ancestry gives him the same royal status as the princes and princesses of Belgium, was thrust into the public spotlight due to revelations over his financial and fiscal misconduct and was namely embroiled in the so-called Dubaï Papers scandal.

The fiscal investigation doubles down on another probe launched by federal prosecutors last autumn, targetting around 50 Belgians who allegedly entrusted the Belgian prince with sums of up to €13 million per person.

De Croÿ allegedly assisted business leaders, members of the nobility and other wealthy individuals in Belgium to stash millions of euros in offshore accounts, many in tax havens such as the Bahamas, Puerto Rico or the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The accounts were opened in the name of shell companies with addresses in Cyprus, Hong Kong, the Marshall Islands or the UAE, with De Croÿ running the scheme through a network of frontmen he recruited internationally, L'Echo reports.

De Croÿ has been in the sights of authorities since the early 2010s, with another investigation launched into his alleged fiscal misconduct concluding unsuccessfully in 2013 after some of the evidence gathered was nullified in court.

Last year, the business daily was sent over 3,000 documents in which the names of at least 113 Belgians appeared, and which also mentioned at least 1,100 trusts, companies and other structures, all located in territories which are or were considered tax havens.

The new fiscal probe announced on Friday comes after the ISI received a wealth of new data from federal prosecutors, which could help uncover other Belgian individuals or companies involved in the scheme.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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