Couple risks prison for leading ‘life of luxury’ with stolen parking meter change
Wednesday, 29 January 2020
The Brussels Region has decided to suspend its checks for paid parking during Belgium's shutdown. Credit: Belga
A former director of a parking management company and his wife are facing prison sentences for stealing around €4.5 million in coins they stole from parking metres change drawers.
Public prosecutors requested a five-year prison sentence for the former technical director of Apcoa Parking, one of Europe’s main parking lot management companies, and of 18 months for his wife.
The couple was put on trial at the end of last year on charges of money laundering and large-scale theft, after the former Apcoa director, Patrick H., was found to have stolen tons of coins by ordering employees to put a number of cash drawers aside for “controls.”
Over a period of ten years, prosecutors found the couple had stolen a total of €4,589,504.42 —in 19.5 tons of coins— that they then stored in either of their bank accounts.
Throughout the ten-year period, the couple led a lavish lifestyle, with regular outings to fine dining establishing and trips to numerous holiday destinations, with their jet-setting bill established at around €26,000 per year.
The couple also owned four cars, including a Maserati, did €180,000 worth of renovations to their holiday apartment in the high-end Belgian resort of Knokke-Heist and owned dozens of luxury-brand garments and jewellery.
During his trial, the man acknowledged that “at the time,” he spent up to €500 daily. “But now I live with €12 and I eat chocolate tartines,” he told the court, 7sur7 reports.
The defendant’s scheme was uncovered by his bank, who detected suspicious activities and led the parking management company to file a fraud complaint against their former employee.
The man’s wife, identified as Els H. and who reportedly had six credit cards to her name, told the court she knew nothing about the theft and avowed she could spend “over €1,000” in one-day shopping sprees.
“I never knew anything about his earnings,” she said, adding that her husband “regularly received bonuses” at work.
The defendant’s lawyer asked the court to not send his client in prison and to sentence him to house arrest with an electronic bracelet, arguing that his client had already been in preventive detention.
“My client is working odd jobs here and there and trying to survive, despite enormous debt,” the lawyer argued.