A coordinated action was recently carried out against an organised criminal group operating from the Slovak Republic and Portugal and involving Belgian and French transport companies. 26 houses in Belgium, France, Portugal and Slovakia were searched, 23 vehicles were seized and five persons placed under temporary custody or released under strict conditions, two of them on the basis of European Arrest Warrants issued by the Belgian authorities.
To prepare for the action, two coordination meetings were held at Eurojust and a joint investigation team, with the support of Eurojust, was formed in February between Belgium and France. Eurojust is EU’s Judicial Cooperation Unit located in The Hague.
Eurojust reported yesterday (20 March) that the case involved the contravention of EU regulations concerning cross-border employment of personnel from 2010 to the present, with an estimated evasion of social contributions amounting to between 8 and 9 million euro.
Three Belgian and three French transport companies are alleged to have established subsidiary companies in the Slovak Republic and Portugal, but in effect continued to operate out of Belgium and France, so that they could employ drivers at lower cost and with fewer benefits.
The Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that its investigation concerns three transport societies in Diksmuide, Hamme and Mechelen. These societies are suspected of eluding paying 6 to 7 million euro in social contributions.
Eurojust declined to comment on how the fraud was discovered and on the risk of similar frauds going on undetected.
The Brussels Times