Belgian businesses manipulate activities to receive government aid
Saturday, 06 March 2021
Last year over 44,000 businesses declared new commercial activities to benefit from allowances meant to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus crisis, De Tijd reports on Saturday.
Moreover, 6,353 ‘ghost’ companies that had been inactive for years also applied for assistance, according to the newspaper.
Each of the businesses concerned applied for new Nace code, which describes a company’s activities, and this allowed them to obtain the right to COVID-related financial assistance, the Graydon commercial information bureau discovered.
A total of 69,041 companies and one-person businesses took out new Nace codes last year. Of these, 44,152 were approved for COVID-19 allowances that they would otherwise not have received. Not all cases have to do with abuses, but according to the economic newspaper, there are indications of fraud.
In addition to the ghost companies, there were 1,544 businesses which, according to Graydon’s analyses, were already exposed to an elevated risk of fraud before the crisis, and received a code that entitled them to an allowance.
Another 3,659 businesses had an “increased” risk of fraud, while thousands of others that received codes may have done so to obtain allowances for which they did not qualify. Most of these businesses are located in Flanders and Brussels.