The Belgian Social Inspectorate is regularly asked by prosecutors to calculate the amount of illegally made profits. This can sometimes lead to assets of a trafficker being confiscated.

The illegal profits have been made by companies that commit benefits or other social fraud, or exploit their workers. The request from the prosecutors is aimed at facilitating - preferably at an early stage of the investigation - the seizure of assets that have been used to commit the crimes, or assets that are proceeds from the crimes. The seizure of assets is a measure that aims at the confiscation of these assets by the criminal judge at the trial that is to be held.

Upon receiving such a request, the Social Inspectorate makes a calculation of the gains that the employer has made by illegally employing the workers. These gains consist of non-paid salaries on the one hand, and of non-declared and thus non-paid social security contributions on the other.

Basically, the illegally acquired profits will normally be the difference between:

  • the legal wages that the employer would have normally paid - and the wages that they failed to pay and
  • the social security contributions which would normally have been paid - and the contributions that were actually paid.

Prosecutors especially request for these calculations when the number of workers involved was high, or when the length of the period of employment was considerable. In these cases, the amount of the illegally acquired earnings can be substantial. The police can also look at the goods, houses and financial assets of perpetrators.

Partners involved in the cooperation

  • Prosecutors: request the calculation to be made
  • Social Inspectorate: calculates the wages and social security contributions the trafficker failed to pay
  • Police: investigate which goods and assets the trafficker owns; implement the prosecutor’s order to seize these goods and assets, whose value corresponds to the calculation of the illegal profits made by the trafficker.

What makes this practice successful?

In a number of cases of trafficking in human beings (THB) for labour exploitation, this method has been applied successfully. One judgment, for example, involved a restaurant where foreign workers worked for excessively long hours, received insufficient wages, were employed in bogus statutes, were denied any social protection, and where the vulnerable position of the victim who stayed in the country irregularly was abused.

Here, the Criminal Court accepted the indicators of trafficking that the investigators had revealed. The Court convicted the perpetrators for THB for labour exploitation with aggravating circumstances.

The Social Inspectorate made a calculation of the illegally acquired capital gains, while the police investigated which goods, houses and financial assets the perpetrators possessed. The Court ordered the illegally acquired profits, which amounted to € 117,653, to be confiscated.