Vague reference to a foreign investigation insufficient for a Belgian conviction

money laundering



In a money laundering investigation in Belgium, the public prosecutor initiated criminal proceedings due to assumptions that the funds on the Belgian bank accounts were the result of a fraud in the Netherlands (more specifically a Ponzi scheme or pyramid games). The Dutch prosecutor started an investigation as well.


The criminal court convicted the suspects on charges of money laundering. It pronounced prison sentences, substantial fines, the dissolution of a company and confiscation of all the funds. The court of appeals in Brussels has afterwards acquitted all suspects of the charges, ordering the return of the funds to the suspects.


The court decided that it could not confirm a conviction based upon a simple allegation that criminal offences have been committed in the Netherlands, without substantiating it in any way with conclusive evidence.


The defense – assisted by Elegis law firm – pleaded not guilty and the court of appeals followed with a full acquittal, which is in accordance with the basic rights of defense and presumption of innocence.