Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Belgian tax office accuses EU trade chief of 'fraud'

Belgian tax authorities have accused the European Union's trade commissioner Karel De Gucht of failing to declare a 1.2-million-euro ($1.5-million) profit on shares, a Dutch-language daily reported on Tuesday. The business newspaper De Tijd said investigators had written to the former Belgian foreign minister and his wife regarding alleged "fraud" after discovering the transaction in 2005. A lawyer for the De Guchts, Victor Dauginet, told the newspaper that the accusation was "scandalous." Dauginet said the profit dated from 2001 when the British firm Hill & Smith entered into Belgian insurer Vista's capital. He said De Gucht was not liable for tax at that time. The probe has focused on the purchase by the De Guchts of a second home in Tuscany. Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly told a regular news briefing that it was a "private matter." Bailly said that De Gucht had informed Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso of his position, and that the Commission was adopting a "presumption of innocence."

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