Share article:
Share article:

Limburg court drops €13 million solar panel fraud case

© Pixabay

A court in Limburg province has dropped a case involving fraudulent green energy certificates to a value of €13 million, citing staff shortages.

The case concerns green energy certificates handed out by the Flemish government as a form of subsidy for homeowners who installed solar panels. In 2010, when the system started, a certificate for 1,000 kilowatt-hours was worth €350 and could be redeemed by selling the certificate to energy regulator VREG.

Note: a similar system operated in the Brussels region and in Wallonia, with some differences. The prosecution concerned the Flemish system only.

The system was changed in 2015 so that new small installations no longer received certificates, but the fraud went on. That consisted of falsifying inspection reports, to make installations that no longer qualified for subsidy, look like they were older and therefore still eligible.

The fraud was rampant. Last year 232 cases came to light and were investigated, 26% up on 2019. Fraud was found in 80% of those cases; in 67% the money was paid back, to the tune of almost €5 million.

The Limburg case concerns three dossiers, worth a total of €13 million in money wrongly paid out. In a statement, the court in Tongeren said it warned justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) in March of the staffing problem, but nothing was done.

The court is supposed to have 40 judges. Due to retirement and other departures, the number is down to 35.

Flemish justice minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) – who also happens to be energy minister – reacted angrily to the announcement.

In Flanders, we want to consistently fight fraud with green energy certificates in collaboration with [distributor] Fluvius, and have fraudsters convicted,” she said. “But this is really hallucinatory and promotes impunity. The fraudsters feel untouchable and the worst part is that the amount cannot be recovered. That means no less than 13 million euros, which Fluvius cannot just deduct from the electricity bill of households and small businesses.”

Van Quickenborne, meanwhile, promised the government would increase spending on the justice system to tackle the problem of under-staffing.

Latest news

Belgium’s Consultative Committee to meet early this week
The next meeting of Belgium's Consultative Committee, scheduled for Friday, has been brought forward to Tuesday at 4:30 PM, according to local media ...
Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Unilever are world’s biggest plastic polluters
Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Unilever were found to be the world's biggest polluters of plastic in a report published by Branded on Monday. Over 11,000 ...
Four men charged with illegally buying thousands of live ducks to hunt on private land
Four Belgian men will appear in court on Monday facing charges related to the purchase of thousands of ducks, which were then released into a private ...
More wolf attacks: 15 deer killed at family resort over the weekend
Fifteen deer were killed by wolves in the Belgian province of Limburg this weekend, between Saturday night and Sunday morning. The deer were ...
Cost of breast cancer still too high for many patients
Breast cancer still carries too high a cost for patients when one in nine women in Belgium will face the disease before reaching 75, according to a ...
Gare Maritime: Brussels’ most exciting new architectural project
A generation ago, the Gare Maritime in the Tour & Taxis industrial site was an abandoned wasteland. It is now a model for urban renewal and ...
Belgium in Brief: Rules For A Fourth Wave
It's the news that nobody wants to hear, but here we go again. Belgium’s council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss ...
Belgian grandparents to walk across Scotland for COP26
A group of Belgian grandparents has set off on a 100 km hike that will take them from Belgium to the Scottish city of Glasgow, just ahead of the ...
Rise in fuel prices will bring Belgian State €547 million in tax, say Workers Party
The sharp rise in fuel prices that have been felt across the continent will bring an additional €547 million to the Belgian State, the Workers' Party ...
Amid backlash, Brussels police chief promises to do better for sexual assault victims
After multiple rallies against sexual violence took place in Brussels last week, with victims offering testimony of poor treatment from police when ...
Person hit by train in Brussels
A person was hit by a train in the tunnel between Brussels North and Brussels Central at around 10:20 AM on Monday, railway network manager Infrabel ...
Hire bikes and scooters: Brussels Parliament wants to restore order
Majority parties in the Brussels Parliament plan to enact new rules allowing communes to set specific and mandatory parking spaces for hire bikes and ...