Belgium has around 350,000 “ghost” companies. This is the term used for companies that do not (or no longer) trade and only exist on paper. The figures and information come from a report by the Graydon bureau, which was published in De Tijd on Saturday.
One of the ways to detect ghost companies is to look at which companies file their accounts on time. The Justice department says this applies to around 130,000 companies, but Graydon says the real number is much larger. It says the current definition is too restrictive.
Based on a series of criteria, for example whether a company receives invoices or not, Graydon has attempted to categorise Belgian businesses.
“A non-active company, or one that might become inactive, is highly likely to be a ghost company. This means it’s not actually doing anything and shouldn’t exist”, says Graydon Belgium’s Eric Van den Broele. There are currently 370,000 companies in this situation. There has been a more in-depth investigation into 2,500 of them, with inspectors being sent in. “In 95% of cases they found no trace” of the company, “which leads us to conclude that there are 350,000 ghost companies in Belgium today”.