Billions of dirty euros in ordinary Belgian bank accounts
26 Jun 2020

A senior government official has called a new amnesty on dirty money to bring billions of euros in hidden bank accounts back into the legal economy.

In an interview with De Tijd, Steven Vanden Berghe, a senior civil servant with the federal finance ministry, argues there are billions of undeclared euros in ordinary accounts with Belgian banks. But the money lies untouched because account holders would face prosecution if it ever emerged.

In present circumstances, he said, it is almost impossible to bring money from a bank in Luxembourg or Switzerland without having to pay tax plus a penalty – or “regularisation” as it is called.

Bringing money in from tax havens is even more difficult.

But that was not always the case, he said, and the money which now lies untouched in Belgian banks is the proceeds of transfers made in the days before regularisation.

The procedure introduced in 2016 for regularisation applies a tariff of 20% on top of any tax that the sums would be subject to. In the case of funds that can no longer be taxed, a regularisation tariff of 36% is applied.

However the possibility remains open for the holders of those sums to be prosecuted for money-laundering, and in that case the bank itself could also be charged.

What Vanden Berghe is proposing now is a new regularisation round for the funds in Belgian bank accounts or financial products. The tariff in that case would be lower, since tax on interest and other levies has been paid over the years on the financial instruments the money is kept in.

By Alan Hope, The Brussels Times, 24 June 2020

Read more at The Brussels Times

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