Former Belgian parliamentary officials asked to return illegal bonuses

Former Belgian parliamentary officials asked to return illegal bonuses
N-VA's Theo Francken reacts at a plenary session of the Chamber at the Federal Parliament in Brussels on Thursday 16 February 2023. BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

The Chamber of Representatives has agreed to reclaim the illegal pension bonuses received by former officials, VRT reports. The chamber will only be able to demand sums handed out after 2013 due to a ten-year statute of limitations.

Parliamentary party leaders met on Wednesday afternoon to determine whether to reclaim the money that former civil servants and chamber presidents had earned on top of their pensions. These hand-outs were ruled to have been illegal as they surpassed the maximum monthly pension set out for public servants in Belgian law.

They agreed to send a letter to three former Presidents of the Chamber of Representatives and eight senior civil servants demanding they return the money earned through these bonuses since 2013. If they refuse, the matter will then be brought in front of a judge who will decide on any financial return.

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The reason for the demand only extending back to 2013 is due to a recent legal opinion which, according to Le Soir, stated that these bonuses were under a ten-year statute of limitations.

Nonetheless, the Chamber of Representatives' current President Eliane Tillieux explained that "today's decision sends a clear signal: we will not abandon and will soon start the necessary procedures to recover these illegally paid amounts."

In the meantime, the Public Prosecutor’s Office is also investigating the matter and is paying particular attention to possible collusion on behalf of civil servants and former parliamentary officials concerning these bonuses.

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