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    Significant fraud in elderly care involving Bulgarian company

    An investigation, by the magazine Knack and Telefacts, reveals that a somewhat indeterminate Bulgarian company is active within the elderly care sector Moreover, it is employing workers for less than half of the Belgian minimum wage, whilst deceiving patients. Several million euro may be at stake.

    The company, Seniorcare24, is offering a series of services for elderly people who do not wish to stay in a residential care home. Operating behind this SPRL (Belgian limited company), there are no less than nine Bulgarian care companies (for example Bauring, Molenburg, Care4You and others), all based at the same registered office in the city of Veliko Tarnovo, and established by sisters Silviya and Teresa M. Such are the findings of the two media outlets.

    One of the companies, Care4You, had been targeted by the Belgian care inspection services in 2016. The inspection services discovered that the social rights in respect of care staff in Belgium were not being complied with at the time. Some 86 workers were not being correctly paid and the working time legislation and rest periods were not being complied with. Employees risked redundancy, and having to pay compensation of up to €1,000, if they spoke to the inspection services. Care4You had in the end been resold to a so-called “man of straw”, some months before the Belgian judgment was passed. The company assets had been split up and transferred to other companies.

    All of this occurs in such a way that the care workers and the clients of the company, Seniorcare24, are being deceived. The system operates thus. The client makes the original telephone call to Seniorcare24, but in the end is led to sign a contract with one of the Bulgarian subsidiaries. These then send care services for a 6-month period in Belgium. The client has to take responsibility for accommodation, Internet connection and airline tickets, but these costs, once again, are deducted from the official salary of workers. The client pays some €2,500 per month, whilst the carer only receives remuneration of between €350 to €700, despite being permanently available. Moreover, there is no guarantee that these workers have received appropriate training to undertake such extensive medical care.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times