Finance Minister Alexander De Croo has given the green light for the State of Belgium to initiate civil action on the Dubai Papers affair, the head of the Special Tax Inspection service, Frank Philipsen, told the Chamber’s Finance Commission on Tuesday.
An investigation was launched in France following press reports revealing the existence since the early 2000s of a vast international network for laundering the proceeds of tax fraud centred around the Helin group, based in the United Arab Emirates.
The group’s founder is a Belgian national, Prince Henri de Croÿ, who was tried in Belgium for tax fraud but was acquitted in 2015 by the Liège Appeal Court.
The names of two Belgian lawyers, Thierry Afschrift and Arnaud Jansen, have also been cited. According to information published by Paris-Match Belgique, the two reportedly served as business providers for Helin.
About 50 Belgians entrusted sums that may have amounted to as much as 13 million euros per client to the prince between 2002 and late last year, according to reports in L’Echo and De Tijd.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has opened a legal investigation into the network, tasking the federal office in charge of economic and financial crimes, the OCDEFO, with conducting it.
A federal magistrate travelled to Paris on 13 September to visit the offices of the French national financial prosecutor’s office.
The relevant documents will be transmitted to the Belgian legal authorities as soon as all the information pertaining to Belgium can be separated electronically, Justice Minister Koen Geens had said on 23 October in response to queries from parliamentarians.