"Government is not interested in battling fraud"

A Brussels magistrate has lashed out against the federal right-wing Charles Michel administration. "This goverment is not interested in tackling financial fraud. I didn't read anything about it in the policy statement. We are too soft. We are afraid it would push away big sums of money, but instead we are paving the way for dirty cash", he told De Standaard.

Michel Claise (59) is one of the country's leading magistrates focusing on financial fraud. He has been working as an examining magistrate in the Brussels judicial area for 15 years. As he often tackles big cases, he often made the headlines in the past.

Claise told De Standaard that he and his colleagues generated hundreds of millions of euros for the Belgian state, "and this could be more if we would be given the instruments." He does not have the feeling that the present right-wing goverment (made up of the Francophone and Flemish liberals of MR and Open VLD, the Flemish nationalists of N-VA and the Flemish Christian democrats of CD&V) is really concerned about the fight against big financial crime. The present government was installed about one year ago.

Is Belgium going the wrong way?

"I haven't received a single sign that this government is taking this battle seriously. I didn't read a word about it in the policy statement. The cabinet concerned with financial crime has been completely dismantled."

"The previous State Secretary, John Crombez (the Flemish socialists were ousted from the coalition and are now on the opposition benches, red.) had taken steps in the right direction. Social and fiscal fraud were being handled together, but now it's going the wrong way again", Claise is quoted as saying by De Standaard. 

"Our present State Secretary for the Battle against Fraud (the Flemish liberal Bart Tommelein, red.) says he will tackle the unemployed while in fact he should be watching the business leaders that are organising social fraud. (...) Our approach is too soft. We are afraid it would push away big sums of money, but instead we are paving the way for dirty cash."