The affair around the ‘dark bank’ of the Belgian prince Henri de Croÿ (61) reaches to the highest circles of the Belgian nobility. In June last year, De Tijd revealed how Belgian high nobility, business leaders and other wealthy Belgians, including an ex-Finance official, could hide their black money via a network around the Croÿ. That has certainly happened since 2002 and lasted until the end of 2018. It went up to 13 million euros per customer.
The dark practices – with offshore accounts, front men, screen companies, anonymous credit cards and passing on suitcases in Brussels – were described in black and white in more than 3,100 leaked documents that De Tijd had requested from the French weekly L’Obs. For a long time, the prince operated from Ras al-Khaimah, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.
After the articles in De Tijd, the federal prosecutor’s office opened a file about the affair last year. It got the leaked documents through the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office in France, which was already on the prince’s heels for his services to wealthy French. Two investigators from the Belgian Central Agency for the Control of the Organized Economic and Financial Delinquency, together with a colleague investigator of the Federal Computer Crime Unit, used ‘operating software’ to index the cartloads of leaked files and search them by keywords. This resulted in 61 names of Belgians who participated in the network around the prince.
“After a coordination meeting, we distributed the files to the judicial districts where those 61 people are located,” said Wenke Roggen, the spokesperson for the federal prosecutor’s office. Most cases are located in the center of the country: Brussels, Halle-Vilvoorde and Walloon Brabant. Although there are also files in, for example, Antwerp, Ghent and Liège. The federal public prosecutor’s office will conduct an investigation into the ‘mother file’, the organization that arranged everything. We have not yet precisely calculated the total size of the file, but it is always about wealthy customers, certainly tens of millions of euros. ‘
We have not yet calculated the total size exactly, but it is always about wealthy customers, certainly tens of millions of euros.
Among other things, the public prosecutor’s office in Halle-Vilvoorde confirms that it handles four files concerning nine prince customers. The Antwerp public prosecutor’s office also confirms that it is conducting an investigation into a customer. There would be no public figures among the 61 suspicious customers. The federal public prosecutor’s office has requested copies of suspects who have already made a tax regularization from the Regularization Contact Point of the tax authorities. This can provide additional evidence.
Last year De Tijd spoke to a Flemish entrepreneur from the construction sector who parked 13 million euros in black money with the prince. In 2017, he decided to take his money away from the Croÿ and to regularize everything for tax purposes. The entrepreneur anonymously testified in De Tijd how he met the prince in 2013 through a joint professional relationship. Discreet meetings with the Prince in Geneva and Brussels followed to establish a screen construction around a Hong Kong company. In the end, the entrepreneur decided to come to terms with the tax authorities and pay millions of euros in tax on his black piggy bank.