Employment fraud in the construction sector: twelve arrested in Belgium and Italy

26 October 2021
Press Release
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This News/Press release is about Economic Crime

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More than €20 million in estimated damages from the fraudulent activity

The Belgian Federal Police, the Italian Guardia di Finanza and Luxembourgish Judicial Police, supported by Europol, dismantled a large organised crime group involved in fraud and money laundering.   

The action day on 19 October led to:

  • 34 locations searched (22 in Belgium, 10 in Italy and 2 in Luxembourg)
  • 12 suspects arrested (10 in Belgium and 2 in Italy)
  • Seizures include 32 high-end cars, real estate, luxury objects, money in 350 bank accounts and €400 000 cash totalling at least €3.5 million. In addition, €10.6 million were frozen in 16 bank accounts in Italy.

20 subcontractors used in Belgium 

The criminal organisation, managed by a single Italian family, had several companies in Italy, Romania and Slovakia, which recruited workers locally. The workers were then send to in the construction sectors in Western European countries, mainly in Belgium and Luxembourg. In Belgium, about 20 local subcontractors then hired the workers. They working conditions were often poor and the working legal conditions were not met including limit of working hours per day/week, minimum salary and annual leave. The investigation uncovered that the hiring companies had no activity in the countries they were based in and the employees they hired had never actually worked for the original companies. The fraud is estimated at €20 million without the possible VAT losses.

Cross-border cooperation

Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided operational coordination and analytical support. On the action day, Europol deployed two experts to Belgium and Italy to cross-check operational information against Europol’s databases to provide leads to investigators in the field. 


Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, we support the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime. We also work with many non-EU partner states and international organisations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.