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More spot checks planned on 'shady' night shops

20:56 10/01/2018

Workplace inspectors will carry out at least 200 surprise checks on night shops in Belgium's biggest cities to tackle undeclared work, social security fraud and money laundering.

The reinforced controls come after the operator of a group of night shops in Ypres was jailed for two years and fined for illegally employing - and exploiting - staff.

Philippe De Backer, the Belgian secretary of state for the fight against social fraud, said: "We are going to tackle the shady businesses that are involved in money laundering, human trafficking and exploitation."

A protocol was signed last year between several government departments, social security services, the police and the judiciary to improve the exchange of information and work together on prosecutions.

De Backer said that as well as night shops, car washes would also be examined. "Honest entrepreneurs are going bankrupt and unfair competition is becoming the rule," he said. "It must stop."

On a local level, the Brussels municipality of Ganshoren has announced higher annual taxes and stricter regulations for night and telephone shops, which the commune argues cause nuisance for locals. "I do not want Ganshoren to be overrun by such stores," Ganshoren's alderwoman for the middle classes told La Dernière Heure.