Property firms fined €330m for fraud, forgery and tax-dodging

Some 600 building and property development firms have been fined and surcharged for trying to avoid tax on €1bn-worth of deals since 2007, according to finance ministry figures.

The building companies paid €330m in fines and back taxes following the intervention of tax and finance ministry investigators. In total, 1,291 companies were looked into.
‘If there is something wrong at half of the companies looked at, then there is something very wrong in the property sector,’ junior finance minister Frans Weekers is quoted as saying.
‘We are talking about small, medium-sized and large organisations, from estate agents and housing corporations to pension funds.’
The biggest case investigated over the past four years is the multi-million euro fraud involving Philips pension fund and development group Bouwfonds. That case has now gone to trial.
The instances of fraud involve buying and selling property at well below market value, the use of middle men to bump up prices, and fake or unrealistic bills.
The tax office is to continue cracking down on the sector, with particular focus on financial directors, real estate agents and property lawyers.
‘I have told the tax office to continue its tough approach,’ Weekers is quoted as saying in the NRC. ‘Abuse will not be tolerated.

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