Four employees of the Anderlecht communal authority in Brussels are facing charges of selling false documents for personal gain, to a value reaching into the millions of euros, De Morgen reports.
The four are accused of selling fake driving licences, as well as more than 5,000 documents that give foreign workers permission to live and work in Belgium, known as 19-b attachments. Each document is thought to have cost the buyer between €1,200 and €1,800, bringing the total profit into the millions of euros.
The investigation started in January last year, when the commune itself reported a traffic in false documents to the Brussels prosecutor’s office. Although to all appearances issued by the commune itself, the documents concerned – because of their illegal origins – have no legal validity.
“That investigation gained momentum on 29 October when an official from the municipality of Anderlecht witnessed red-handed forgery and its use at the counter,” public prosecutor Sarah Durant told the paper.
“The police then arrested the person who had presented himself at the counter with the false documents, and during a search of her home, investigators discovered a large number of forged documents.”
The communal functionary in question was charged, and in the course of questioning pointed the finger at several colleagues, also allegedly involved in the traffic. Two were arrested and quickly admitted their involvement. They were charged and released on bail.
“According to the first testimonies from outside the municipality, the forgers, who had been active for at least three years, received between 1,200 and 1,800 euros per counterfeit document,” said Durant. “The municipality of Anderlecht currently estimates the number of false 19b attachments issued by this network at around 1,900 per year.”
A traffic, in other words, with a value of more than two million euros at the very minimum. But the traffic didn’t stop there.
The investigation also concerns a traffic in driving licences, issued by Anderlecht without any correspondence with the applicant’s home country. This part of the investigation concerns two communal workers, one of whom has since transferred to Ninove commune, where they are accused of organising a traffic in false identity cards.
And a representative of the public prosecutor’s office explained to the paper that the matter concerns more than just a few obscure official documents.
“Any person who has received a false 19b attachment has been able to enjoy social rights such as family reunification, unemployment benefits, social benefits, which, given the amount of false documents, could lead to a shortfall of several million euros. In addition, the issue of false driving licenses to persons who have never passed a competency exam and are still allowed to drive trucks, semi-trailers and other vehicles poses a clear danger to road traffic.”