The prosecutor’s office for East Flanders has charged KBC Bank and KBC Group with money laundering, in the case of the family behind the Engels doors and windows construction family, based in Lokeren.
The case against the family will be brought before a court in Ghent tomorrow, including charges against the company’s tax accountant. The charges relate to the importation, over the course of 13 years, of millions of euros previously hidden in a secret Swiss bank account. The money was brought into the family’s account with KBC. Some members of the family paid tax and fines on repatriation of the sums concerned, but others did not. The charges relate to three brothers from the Engels family and their mother.
The prosecutor alleges that the bank ought to have been aware of something illegal going on as the money was brought in from Switzerland. Banks and other financial institutions are obliged by law to report any suspicious activity that might be related to money laundering, but KBC never did, despite millions flowing from Switzerland to Belgium over the course of 13 years.
However, a spokesperson for the bank told De Tijd, “KBC is convinced it committed no offence, and will present its defence before the court”.
“The case was thoroughly examined at the time by experts from the KBC on the basis of the information which KBC possessed at that moment,” she told the paper. “For KBC there was enough evidence to conclude there was no question of a suspicion of money laundering.”
Didier Engels, the managing director of the company and elder brother of the family, issued a statement. “Seeing as our late father was represented for the fiscal regularisation by the most respected specialists and lawyers, we are convinced that everything was done perfectly legally,” he said. “Since various banks confirmed the transactions without a single remark, those too were carried out legally.”