Customs officers accompanied by police carried out raids on 21 night shops in Anderlecht and Molenbeek this week, and found 19 were breaking the law.
One shop was found to be in line with the law, while another could not be inspected because it was closed.
Operation Liquid Night, as it was called, took place in the zones Brussels-West and Brussels-Midi to look for possible fraud with alcohol, non-alcoholic drinks and tobacco products.
“Retailers can always be tempted to supply themselves, either directly or via a network, with products where no excise duty or VAT has been paid in Belgium, or with counterfeit products,” said Kristian Vanderwaeren, administrator-general of the Customs and Excise service.
“But we can also prosecute matters not connected to fiscal laws, such as weapons and drugs,” he said.
The raids discovered offences relating to non-alcoholic drinks, brought in from France, Poland and Denmark without duty and VAT being paid in Belgium. They also found cigarettes and tobacco on sale without Belgian tax stickers.
Further investigation will include interviews with the owners of the shops. In some cases, products were taken into custody.
Of the 21 shops searched, only one showed no signs of law-breaking. Another appeared to have closed, and was not searched. In the remaining 19, indications of fraud were discovered.
“The battle against tax fraud in night shops is important to the customs service,” Vanderwaeren said.
“That’s why I wanted to take part personally in this action, which was carried out enthusiastically. The results will now be analysed further to allow us to organise our checks better in the future.”
The large-scale action was also intended to have a deterrent effect.
“The customs service is present 24 hours a day across the country to combat excise fraud among other things. We will not tolerate impunity, which is why we were there to lend a hand on Thursday with this major inspection of night shops in Brussels.”