De Tijd gained access to some 3,000 leaked e-mails, contracts and banking data via the French weekly l'Obs. These revealed how the 60-year-old Henri de Croÿ set up a whole network to hide the cash of the well-off Belgians. "It is an unprecedented scheme to help business leaders, high nobility and other rich Belgians to keep their cash hidden from the Belgian authorities", explains Lars Bové of De Tijd. An amount of 13 million euros per client is being mentioned.
The cash was first put on Swiss accounts. But when the banking rules were tightened there, it was transferred to accounts in places like the Bahamas, the United Arab Emirates and Puerto Rico. The banking accounts were not on their names, but on the names of third companies, in other hiding places, to make sure the cash was stowed away safely, Bové explains.
And there's more. An ingenious scheme was set up to allow the rich to spend some of this hidden cash, using anonymous credit cards. These were not linked to a bank, but to other accounts that the prince was using. There are also talks of money couriers who came to a certain place to hand over cash. "A courier could come to Brussels to hand over 50,000 euros, hidden underneath coffee pads in an espresso bag."
A courier could come to Brussels to hand over 50,000 euros in cash in an Espresso bag